Heckler makes some points, as does Walter Russell Mead

Last night at Committee for Accuracy in Mideast Reporting (CAMERA)’s talk at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y featuring Prof. Walter Russell Mead and Warren Kozac, journalist, called, “Political Earthquake in the Middle East: Are There Any Good Options for the U.S. and Israel?” a mini earthquake erupted when a heckler accused Mead of pussyfooting around discussing Islam in his analysis.

The man was a cerebral Jewish type and a Conservative – not a combo any speaker would wish to encounter in a heckler. What I mean is, the guy made a lot of sense, unfortunately.

Below I’ve excerpted the portion of the discussion concerning Iran, which was when the heckler’s outburst took place:

Kozak: Why do Iran’s leaders threaten to destroy Israel? Why is Iran spending so much money funding Hezbollah and Hamas?

Mead: They are in competition with Saudis … to be leaders. They believe if they can get control of oil they can be a great power on level of the U.S. or Europe …

Whether we have Haman there actually ready to destroy Israel or whether it’s a political show [we don’t know] … They may not even know how far they want to go, but it’s a political no-brainer to them. It worked especially during the years when Sunni leaders weren’t going to be too openly anti-Israel such as Egypt because they had this deal with America. …

Kozac: I think Bibi Netanyahu would sleep better if there weren’t centrifuges spinning …

Mead: I think the question is, are these centrfiuges real or rhetorical?

Kozac: Oh, they’re real!

Mead: What I mean is, are they show centrifuges?

HECKLER (shouting): Gimme a break! Do you speak Arabic!? Do you speak Turkish!? He spends a lot of time talking about mideast, but he doesn’t talk about Islam!

Kozac: With all respect sir, he’s speaking now…

Mead: Regarding the centrifuges, you can’t know …

HECKLER continued to shout about Islam, the Iranian nuclear program, etc.

A couple thoughts on this. First, to be fair, Mead’s discussion was far-ranging and his analysis was on point at times. He pointed out, for instance, that “the instinct of every American is WE can find a win-win solution–this is part of our national character and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”

True enough.

He also handily dismissed the recent absurd accusation of “pinkwashing” against Israel by stating the incontrovertible truth that, “If you were a gay, Christian, Palestinian activist, your life would be so much better in Tel Aviv than it would anywhere else in the Middle East.”

But as far as his speculation that the centrifuges might be “rhetorical,” I couldn’t help but think of how, as recounted by Rich Cohen in “The Avengers” his journalistic account of the Vilna ghetto uprising, it was the reasonable folk–in that case, the reasonable Jews–to whom Hitler’s plan seemed unthinkable exaggeration. In Vilna it was the lonely voices–the few, courageous and even mad–who saw the truth.

The heckler was escorted out, or else he just left, I’m not sure which.

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