Speaking to major donors to the MetroWest UJA Campaign Oct. 4, columnist George Will earned frequent applause for a strong defense of Israel and equally strong criticism of a “culture of incitement” among Palestinians.
“The long-suffering Palestinian people are suffering because of their leadership, the worst produced in the 20th century,” the conservative pundit said during a 40-minute address at the philanthropy’s Major Gifts Event at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston.
“The Palestinian leadership supported the Germans in the First World War, Hitler in the Second World War, Stalin in the Cold War, and Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War,” he added. “That, ladies and gentlemen, is a losing streak.”
The dinner, open to individuals or couples who have made a minimum gift of $10,000 to the 2012 United Jewish Appeal of MetroWest NJ, drew some 330 donors.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist asserted that Israel’s 1948 War of Independence has not ended.
“Israel has never been more perilously poised than it is today,” he said. “Even in 1948, when it took up small arms to resist the much heavier weapons of six Arab armies. Before, it could fend them off. But now, when you can build rockets that can fly over a fence, and we know now after the flotilla from Turkey that every act of self-defense by Israel will be used as an occasion to further delegitimize Israel, for using force that is — in a magic word — ‘disproportionate.’”
He called Hizbullah “a movement heavily subsidized by the government of Iran, whose president says, ‘A: ‘The Holocaust never happened,’ and B: He means to complete it.”
Clash of cultures
Will described the Israeli-Palestinian clash as “a culture of incitement versus a culture of peace.”
The Palestinian Authority is “the most subsidized and protected institution in the world,” he said. “It depends entirely on the charity of governments like the United States and Europe.”
Questioned about Israel’s future, Will said, “It is just as good as the United States makes it.”
Bucking some of his fellow conservative pro-Israel commentators, Will said Israel has received “terrific” support under the Obama administration. Referring to reports of a cool relationship between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Will said, “It is not personal, and there is almost perfect congruence between the interests of our two nations.”
Will also strongly endorsed moving the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“The United States knows where its embassy belongs. It belongs in the capital of the country, and let’s hold the candidates’ feet to the fire,” he said.
The columnist triggered a moment of unexpected confrontation when he answered a question about anti-Israel sentiment on American college campuses.
“It has to be somewhat puzzling to the American-Jewish community that Israel’s greatest friends are conservative evangelicals…and the only serious hostility toward Israel comes from the secular progressive Left,” he responded.
“It was the secular leftists of this country who specifically called for the establishment of Israel,” countered Alan Cohen of Livingston, a cochair of the event and moderator of the question-and-answer session.
Responded Will: “Of course I am not saying that all American secular progressives are anti-Israel. Far from it. I am saying that almost all the vociferous enemies of Israel are progressive leftists.”