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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 28, 2009 9:00am-10:00am EST

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among liberals to a new conception of social justice that entailed a reintroduction of the quota system that had always been used as a way of keeping jews out and down. and then came the six day war. in the weeks leading up to it president nasser of egypt and the leaders of the other arab countries bordering israel issued a steady stream of bloodcurdling threats to destroy israel and drive its inhabitants into the sea. sea. the second time in a 20th century, and only a quarter of a century after the first, a major community of jews was threatened with annihilation, actual annihilation. and once again the world as it seemed still complacently by. the difference, the literally earthshaking difference, was that this time jews living under a genocidal threat had the means
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and the will to defend themselves against it. and so the israelis did. in six short days, they avert another holocaust by waging one of the most brilliant campaigns in military history. most american jews celebrated that victory. but on the left, and especially among the intellectual who made their political home there, the outcome of the six-day war gave anything but cause for celebration. on the >> the israeli victory became the occasion for an outbreak of what called itself anti-zionism that was more often than not the cover for a new species of anti-semitism, through which the old hatred that had from time immemorial and directed at the jewish people, was now directed at the jewish state.
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in the process, the libelous charges that anti-semites had always hurled at jules were being translated into the language of international affairs and apply to the israelis. when some of us sounded the alarm over this ominous development, we were accused of trying to fend off any criticism of israel's policies by smearing it as anti-semitism. this boy is still being used. but as the years have passed, and as the new anti-zionism has spread like a metastasizing malignancy through the major institutions of the liberal culture, universities, mainstream media, the world of the arts and entertainment, not to mention the un, it has become harder and harder to maintain the pretense that there is any significant difference between the new anti-zionism and the old anti-semitism. it came about that the political
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left which had for so long and with good reason commanded the loyalty of the jews was now offering hospitality to ideas and sentiments that were blatantly hostile to jews. to cite only one of the many examples i discuss in my book, the nation perhaps the most influential magazine of the american left, and that had once upon a time that a staunch supporter of israel, could not publish an article by the novelist and critic gore but all in which israel was described in his words a predatory nation's busy stealing other peoples land in the name of an agent theocracy. and in which she denounced american jews, all american jews as as in irately difficult. it was bad enough that a major liberal periodical like the nation could play host to the naked invocation of two of the
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classic scenes of anti-semitism, the jew as a disloyal alien, and the jew as a conspiratorial manipulator of malign power, dangerous to everyone else. but what was even worse was that gore vidal's article elicited no more than a week people protest from the magazines sponsors and readers. the vidal affair provided powerful confirmation for the argument some of us have been making since 1967 that anti-semitism had found a new home on the left. and then biological incidents, the nation's opposite number on the right, national review, became embroiled in a similar controversy of its own that provided commensurately powerful evidence to the argument we had also been making since 1967, that anti-semitism was becoming more and more unwelcome among
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conservatives. this controversy involved a member of national review editorial staff named joseph sobrante, who had devoted a number of his syndicated columns to attacking not just the state of israel, but also the jewish people in general and judaism as a religion. accordingly, a letter of protest was sent to a long list of prominent conservative intellectuals, and in sharp contrast to the liberal intellectuals connected with the nation, all of the conservatives, every last one of them, join in expressing outrage at the sobrante anti-semitic writings. in spite of the fact that none of the clearly anti-semitic sobrante teachings had reviewed in national review itself, the letter was also sent to its editor, william f. buckley, jr. but whereas the editor of the nation had responded to a similar letter, by denying that
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vidal piece is anti-semitic or even preposterously anti-israel, buckley wrote an editorial associate his magazine from sobrante on this issue. and admonishing him to begin respecting the unwelcome -- the welcome structure of taboos concerning israel and the jews. what emerged from his dramatic contrast between the two cases was further evidence that anti-semitism had largely, if not in the name of pat buchanan reminds us, it's not entirely vanished from its traditional home on the right. while especially in the guise of anti-zionism, it was meeting with more and more toleration, and sometimes even approval on the left. this momentous reversal also manifested itself in the bitter debates over other issues of jewish interests and concerns such as quotas in the plight of soviet jewelry that i analyze in detail in my book.
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but it was and is a christian attitude toward israel that the reversal of roles between left and right has most certainly been manifested. and thereby, hangs the tale. although there appears to have been some slippage in the intensity and jewish concern for israel, most american jews, including most of the liberals among them, still care deeply about the security of israel, or so they told. and as everyone knows or should know by now, there is no group in america, probably not even the jews themselves, which cites more passionately with israel and the war being waged against it by the arab muslim world and which is more steadfast in upholding israel's right to defend itself against its sworn enemies than the so-called religious right. yet instead of forging the pluto alliance for this community,
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jewish liberals look for ways to justify their refusal to do so. at the same time, perfectly willing to make common cause for the so-called mainline protestant denominations despite the fact that unfriendliness and even outright hostility to israel have become pervasive in that sector of the christian world. a similar situation exists in the strictly political realm here although poll data show self-described conservatives and self-described republicans sympathizing with israel in much greater proportions than liberals self-described liberals that is, and self-described democrats. for example, in a pew survey taken early this year, 60 percent of conservatives sided with israel against a person with the palestinians. whereas a comparable numbers among liberals were only about
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half as much for israel, 33% as against 60. but nearly three times as much, 21% as against eight for the palestinians. the same pattern turns up with party affiliation were 69 percent of republicans expressed more sympathy for israel than for the palestinians, while only 42 percent of democrats, a gap of 27 points. nevertheless, the average jewish vote for presidential candidates, an amazing 75%, has remained what it was between 1928 and the great reversal of 1967, and it is still far higher than that of many other group. when i say still, i most emphatically include 2008. running against john mccain, barack obama captured 78 percent
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of the jewish vote, which was come and get a load of these numbers, which was 25 points higher than the 53% he scored with electorate as a whole, 35 points higher than the pro-obama whitecoat in general, even if 11 points higher than his hispanic vote, broken down the religion, the jewish vote for obama was 33 points higher than the protestant vote for him, and 24 points higher than the catholic vote he got. only with blacks who gave him 95 percent of their votes did obama do better than he did with the jews. and so it continues to go with the liberal agenda. on the old economic and political issues like government spending, benefits for the poor and organized labor, as well as on the newer issues that form the battlefield of the culture war, abortion, gay marriage,
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school prayer, assisted suicide, gun control and so on, the polls consistently showed huge gaps in support, huge gaps between jews and all other americans, including conservative americans. which brings me finally -- excusing, including other nonliberal jewish americans. which brings the funny to the question i wrote my book to answer, why are jews so stubbornly committed to whatever happens to be on the liberal agenda at any given moment, and why have they continued voting for democrats in spite of the changes that have taken place since 1967, both in their socioeconomic position and in the democratic party itself that might have been expected to drive them away? many attempts have been made to account for this phenomenon, and they fall into three large categories.
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historical, sociological and religious. those in favor of the historical explanation tell us that jews have long memories and that they are therefore still mindful of the centuries of oppressed and their people suffered at the hands of the right as against the help that they were given by the forces of the left. in my judgment, however, to the extent that they have struggled explanation is valid, is a case that resembles the guns of singapore. before the outbreak of world war ii, these artillery pieces were pointed in the direction from which the island had last been invaded, and so they proved utterly useless against the japanese who simply invaded from the other side. for the jews, the enemy had always been on the right for the most part, and it was from there that he had only yesterday launched the most murderous assault on them and their long history. it may be understandable that they would keep looking for the
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any where he was last seen, but as the british discovered in 1940 from the guns of singapore, fighting the last war can only bring defeat in the new war that has just broken out. the sociological factors that are often invoked to include minorities status, education, parental influence, to a greater degree of comfort jews field. the fear of being punished socially for dissenting from the political orthodoxies of the community and even lightly genetic inheritance. not surprisingly, the most original theory is down in an article by the late irving kristol wherewith his usual boldness he proposed the jews though notorious for their intelligence, are actually stupid when it comes to politics. but the most popular explanation by far traces jewish liberalism all the way back to the jewish
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values that are said to derive from the commandments in judaism, or more broadly the spirit of the jewish religious tradition. there is, however, a fatal flaw at the heart of the theory that the liberalism of american jews stems from the teachers of judaism. it's the theory where the orthodox would be the most liberal sector of the jewish community. for it is they who are the most familiar with the jewish religious tradition and the most deeply influenced by its holy books, and whose lives are the most fully shaped by its commandments. yet the orthodox are the least liberal of all their fellow jews. the orthodox enclaves are the only jewish neighborhoods where conservative candidates get any votes to speak of. even more telling is that on every one of the issues involved in the culture war, the orthodox opposed politically correct
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liberal positions taken by most other american jews, and precisely because these positions conflict with jewish law. for example, jewish law permits abortion is only to protect the life of the mother. it forbids sex between men. it prohibits suicide except when the only alternatives are forced either worship, prohibited sexual relations and so on. i have much more to say in my book about why the religious theory have commonly expounded failed to explain the continuing commitment of american to liberalism. i also analyzed each one of the other theories before concluding that they are all either inadequate or just plain wrong. i do, however, the one to argue that there's another way for them the religious theory that does provide an answer to the question. it is that liberalism has become
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more, much, much more than a political position to most american jews. that has become a religion in its own right complete with its own torah and its own set of commandments. through a process i described at length in the book, this new tour ruck on the tour of liberalism as i call it, has superseded the tollroad of judaism to the point where we can say without exaggeration that liberalism, not judaism is now the religion of most american jews. i do not go as far as the cruel wit who once described the services in a reform temple as a democratic party at prayer. [laughter] >> nor do i go as far as to even crueler wit who described reform judaism in general as the democratic party platform with holidays thrown in. [laughter]
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>> but i do contend that many american jews sincerely believe that adhering to the torah of liberalism makes them good jews, even though in any conflict between the new torah and the old, the new always trumps the old. to this new torah, adherents give the same measure of steadfast devotion and scrupulous obedience that their forebears gave to the torah of judaism. so too as i can testify from the scars on my soul, they regard moving from left to right, or from liberalism to conservatism, with the same core as their forefathers felt that conversion to christianity. of course, when i speak of the conflict between left and right, or between liberals and conservatives, i'm talking about a divide wider than the conflict between democrats and republicans, and deeper than electoral politics can go.
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was the great issue between the two political communities fundamentally turns on is how they feel about the nature of american society. with all exceptions, duly noted, i think it fair to say that what the left mainly sees when it looks at america is in justice and oppression of every kind. economic, social, and political. by sharp contrast, the right sees a complex of traditions, principles and institutions that have made it possible for more freedom and even factoring in a periodic economic downturns, more prosperity to be enjoyed by more of its citizens than in any society known to human history. it follows that what liberals believe needs to be changed or discarded, not to mention apologized for two other nations, is precisely what conservatives are dedicated to preserving, reinvigorating, and
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proudly defending against an attack. in this realm, american jewelry surely belongs to conservatives rather than with the liberals. because the social, political and moral system that liberals wish to transform is the very system in and through which jews found a home such as they had never discovered in all of their forced wanderings throughout the century, over the face of the earth. the jewish immigrants began coming here from east europe in 1880s were right to call america the golden and medina, the golden land. there was no gold industries as some of them may have imagined, and so they had to struggle and struggle hard. but there was another kind of gold in america, more precious kind, than the gold coins. it was freedom and there was opportunity. blessed with these conditions and hampered by much less disabling forms of anti-semitism
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and discrimination, then jews had grown accustomed to continue with, children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these immigrants florist. and not just in material terms. to an extent unprecedented in the history of their people. what i'm saying is that the jewish experience in this country bears eloquent testimony to the infinitely precious purchase of the traditional american system. shirley than we jews have an obligation to join with its defenders against those who are blind or indifferent are antagonistic to this philosophical principles of moral values and the socioeconomic institutions on its health and vitality, the conditional american system attends. in 2008, we were faced with a candidate who ran explicitly on the premise that the traditional american system was seriously flawed and in desperate need of
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radical change. as he said on october 31, 2008, quote, we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the united states of america. and he also had a record powerfully indicating that he would pursue policies dangers to the security of israel. because of all this, i hoped for a while that my fellow jews would finally break free of the liberalism to which they have remained enthralled, long past the point where it has served either their interest over their ideals, whether as a jews or as americans. that hope having been so resoundingly dashed on election day, i never asked for a bit of encouragement from the signs that buyer's remorse may be beginning to set in among jews. as it also seems to be doing among the independents who voted for obama.
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and so i am now hoping against hope, that the exposure of obama as a false messiahs will at last open the eyes of my fellow jews to the co-relative falsity of the political creed that he so perfectly personifies and into which so many of them have for so long been so misguidedly loyal. thank you very much. [applause] >> before we start the questions and answers, i'm a study that immediately following his presentation at 4:00, mr. podhoretz has a call-in interview with c-span. you can go downstairs to the bus and watch it live. you will then come back upstairs and autograph your books.
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so buy a book outside, then go watch the interview and come get it signed. and now, come up for questions. >> am i supposed to call people or do they just come up? >> it is a pleasure to hear you and i want to thank you for your stubborn, noble clarity that you have demonstrated. and i find, as you do, i dangerous contradiction in jews of the left supporting regimes that support the very element that seek to destroy israel, as well as the jewish nation abroad. it seems to me that the
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positions that you are stating that there is a secular premise that is being given, and they are putting that before the interest of the jewish nation and their religion is extremely relevant. do you think that at some point regimes of the left that is supported so heavily can be stopped? do you see that occurring? >> well, nothing is forever, and before 1967, the left everywhere in the world, including governments like the soviet union, the czech government, were pro-israel, for one reason or another. and as i pointed out, it all changed. it began to change in 1967, conceivably something will happen that could provoke another change. i wouldn't bet the ranch on it, but it is not out of the
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question. but in the meantime, i would recommend -- i mean, i spent a lot of time in this book trying to explain in historical terms how jews have wound up in the position they have. and i begin way back, at least in the mid- 19th century, and i see a trace of progression there, a commitment to marxism in its pure form in the early days, to democracy, democratic socialism as it got watered down as marxism got watered down in this country, particularly in the labor movement to which so many jews were committed. and finally, with the progressive discrediting of socialism as a socioeconomic system, it morphed into liberalism. and from liberalism there is
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nowhere to go but apostasy. i mean, which is like, you know, that's it. that's the last op on the road. the real question is whether most jews will continue holding stubbornly on to their last resort in the face of the mounting empirical evidence and fellow rational argues that they have so far resisted. i mean, to the horror of any liberal jews who have dared to read this book, i compared the liberal religion, the torah of liberal religion to the faith of tortelli and who was one of the early fathers of the christian church around the third century, second, third century. .org and had been a roman pagan. e. convert to christian. and when you said how can you believe all that nonsense that you now required to believe, it
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is absurd. and he said ibd that because it is absurd. now, if you believe something because it is absurd, obviously you're not going to be shaken from that believe by rational argument or empirical evidence. and i actually think that the commitment of many american jews to liberalism, and by the way, not just jews, has to tortelli in my character which make it all the more difficult to shake. i can only say this. jews have a lot of experts with false messiahs. the obama is the first non-jewish false messiah jews it had to do with, but the last really successful one in the late 16th century ended by converting to islam, and he had
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attracted a following all over the jewish world, including many prominent rabbis, learned men. and his apostasy, which by the way was rationally, even that was rationalized by some of his followers, but his apostasy with such a traumatic shock to most of his other followers that it led to a deep rethinking of all their ideas and attitudes about judaism, about life, about god. and i don't suppose that the exposure of obama as a false messiahs which seems to be happening before our very eyes, and as i speak will have that profound of a fact but maybe we'll start shaking things up a bit. >> thank you. >> my question relates to the gold storm report and i'm wondering what your views are on the responses of the democratic party and administration and the left in general to that report,
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and the responses of the conservatives and other republican party to that report. do you feel they convert your are they significant and meaningful differences that are important to israel and the response? >> good question. i mean, being against the goldstone report is a no-brainer. it is so outrageous, so testable that you have to bend herself into three pretzels in order to defend it. i'm serious about that. so when the resolution is introduced in the house of representatives to condemn it, overwhelming majority of representatives voted to condemn it. but it's interesting that the only congressman who voted either abstained or voted against condemning it were democrats. there were not many of them, 30, 35, something like that. and it was clear that there was less enthusiasm about taking it
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on in liberal circles, even among democratic politicians, many of whom are afraid of extending the jewish constituents because they still depend on jewish support, jewish money. as for the administration, the american representative at the un did i think voted against sending the report to the security council. we would undoubtedly have vetoed the report if it had been brought before the security. i mean, we may be down but we are not flat as all that. to have gone along with this despicable document. but if you read as i have the actual statements made by ambassador wright -- rice, and a couple of the assistant ambassadors, it is actually quite tepid compared to what,
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say, kind of outrage that moynahan expressed in the un. really passionate, tough. this is unbalanced, too one-sided, it will not help the peace process but instead of saying this is a moral and political outrage of the first order, we are sort of gingerly and dissenting from. >> you would've liked to seen have seen a stronger much stronger? >> absolutely. i would've liked to seen have sn comparable to the response that moynahan who was then our ambassador to the un made to the zionism racism resolution. the fact that i helped write his speech has nothing to do with the fact that i think it was a good. [laughter] >> you should understand. >> i am canadian and i am pleased with our governments
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response as well. >> i would like to ask with regard to an understanding of servitude as him and contract to liberalism, as apparently they are very central to the thesis of the book, which i actually just started working on. i would like to ask in your search that liberalism seeks to change those values which are most fundamental to america's success historically, when america's success would seem to me to have been built on constructive self-criticism, we vision is in and mercilessly systematic reform and adaptati adaptation. how does resisting change translate into success for a country that has been built on constant reform? [applause] >> well, some changes are good
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and some changes are bad. is not self-evident that change is necessarily good. [applause] >> the conservative view, despite what liberals like to believe, is not even philosophically opposed to reform our adaptation, on the contrary. the patron saint, edmund burke was formulated the approach that conservatives should take to reform turkey was a reformist himself, but he insisted that any reform, that you ensure that any reform is consistent with the fundamental principles of the english constitution, and that it not in any way undermine the foundations on which the country stands. and that's the position most
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conservatives take, and it is the position i take. the question always is which reform, many reforms that i myself supported when i was misguided leftist like the war on poverty, and some of my friends by the way, fellow neoconservatives who actually helped write the legislation that made up the great society, discovered that it had a fixed the opposite of those that were intended. it did more harm to the poor than good. in various ways that have been demonstrated over and over again. so to invoke something like, you know, compassion to the poor or the need to institute reforms when you keep supporting measures that resume or pretend to be favorable to the poor and are in fact harmful, yeah, you're not supporting what i
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would call reform that's in harmony with the fundamental principles of the american system. that i believe as i said, and i will say again, to my dying breath, have resulted in more freedom and more prosperity for more of its citizens than any society, any society known to human history, whether past or present. >> i belong to that group -- >> i'm sorry, i didn't hear you. >> i belong to that group that you refer to, universities -- >> the mainstream liberal institution. >> that should be telling you something. because as jews, i don't think
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have -- i am more intelligent, but we have been reared to analyze and to question and to go for scientific pursuits. jews have been very good at making money, and jews have been very good at being missions, teachers, stimulating people. the question, what is going on? and i think that you should talk about university people, and that way i think we should be honored and pleased that the quotas that we had to go through. i am from south america, but i went to medical school there, but in those days here, jews
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couldn't go because they were quotas. and let me tell you something else. in the last few days, i met with a very good friend who is a professor at the nazarene university. and he was saying, he is from israel, said he thought in the 1967 war. but he didn't fight for the policies that the government of israel supplying to the west bank. [applause] >> you know, if you read certain sociologists who share your admiration for the universities, and my fellow intellectuals, you
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will find that one of the things they say is that when young people come to college, they have their assumptions, presuppositions, the one they brought from home, shaken up when they learn to look at it critically. and this is often applied to both jewish professors and jewish students. but the plain truth of the matter is that most jewish kids nowadays come to college already having liberal ideas and assumptions. and rather than being taught to question them, they are simply taught how to reinforce them and how not to entertain any opposition to them. so this much critical spirit which exist certainly in the bible, you know, yes dear abraham argues with god, moses argued with god. job argues with god. but most academic people or
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students i know will not even argue with their professors because they agree about everything. [applause] >> i think this is a monster will truth. i went to columbia in 1946 under a 17% quota. nobody admitted it existed but everybody knew it was 17%. harvard had a bigger one because not being in new york, it wasn't afraid of being overwritten by as much as columbia was. and in those days, the effect that the sociologists are referring to ascribed to college education did actually occur. i mean, i was totally transformed by my four years in colombia, having come from a slum in brooklyn.
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but i don't see that columbia itself, or most of the major universities, have that character any longer. i find them conformists, slavishly conformist, intolera intolerant, incapable of entertaining positions on the other side. and dogmatic about their beliefs rather than critical. and i think that's been well documented by studies of the contemporary university. >> how are you doing sir? i have two questions for you. i believe abraham lincoln once told us that a house divided cannot stand. that was recently displayed in black and white in new york with the psychopolitical division with when republican rep and the
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conservative rep. and in the end, two of them became politically helpless. >> who are you talking about? i'm sorry. >> the election in new york for the congress. >> are you talking about new york 23? >> yes. and at the end of two of them became politically helpless, useless. that within 24 hours, you had the democratic winner playing an important role. so that's the question on division. the last question to you, just on monday i believe, the prime minister of israel, netanyahu, made a bold statement, stating that the un owed this pleasure
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with his, you know, governance and terms of misuse of power, was horrible. but he went on to tell us that obama almost became a non-false prophet, a messiah. because obama fully supported israel, which got the division by viewing and rejected flatly the decision of the un calling israel misuse of power in terms of palestine. so my question to you, how do you explain those psychologies i just gave you? >> the new york 23 race, which i think you're pointing to, is an example of division among republicans and conservatives. incidentally, there is a recount
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going on, and it may turn out that the democrats did not win. we don't know yet. so the whole, you know, premise may be false. that so-called division is not as dramatic as it seems. the woman who was nominated by the local county chairman as a republican was almost indistinguishable from the liberal democrats in all the positions she took. and that's why she was a challenge. there was no primary, you see, and there was no chance for there to be a primary challenge where she was nominated by what we called the boss is in a smoke-filled room. so the challenge that was mounted in the last that was an expression of the anger of people in that district, among other places, at the high handedness and arbitrariness of her selection. as for, i think you are talking
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about the goldstone report, i'm not sure. as i said earlier, it's a no-brainer. i mean, the united states did in fact condemn it, but i thought it did so and i thought it did so in a rather weak language as compared with the past. and i still think that, and i think that netanyahu, the prime minister of israel, is obligated for obvious political reasons to paper over as much as possible the differences that have opened up with the united states since the obama administration took office, as they themselves put it we want to put some daylight between us and israel. and that daylight, which has been no boon to israel, but prime minister is trying very hard not to let it spread to the point where a possible rupture might ensue.
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[applause] >> lester brown, president of earth policy institute, presented his thesis on how best to save mankind. mankind. the university of chicago pose the hour and 15 minute event. >> some time ago, in fact, many years ago now just as i was being introduced by the late senator paul simon of illinois, a longtime friend, and he was holding up the latest book i'd
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read many said lester has written a sort of book that once you put it down you can't pick it up again. [laughter] >> if you don't get a chance to read the book, there will be a movie. there is a two-hour special now in production on plan d. when i mentioned to one of our funders that i was going on a book tour, this was in june of last year, to promote several of the early translations of plan b., 3.0, and i mentioned i would be in japan, we would be launching the japanese, korean, chinese, indie, turkish additions on this particular swing. and she said wouldn't it be great to get that on film? so we mentioned it to our production team who is producing
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for pbs, they do the journey to planet earth series that is on tv now for several years. they do one or two hours a year. and i thought it would be a good idea. at the our father came up with funding so he could go with me. what they didn't realize is they were going to hear the same plan b talk, 23 times. and after a bit, about a week, he said i had this talk and i think i can do it pretty well. and i had to tell him about those who work for the european space agency who was on tour, sort of drumming up support for the european save against space program. it was being driven around the city and so forth around europe on this tour, and his chauffeur came up with a same response that after a week or so, he said i can get this talk. we just sort of laugh as we kept bringing it up here finally, the
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next night will be in a small town. he said but i'm concerned about the q&a session. and the sjoberg said, well what i learned as they almost always ask the same questions. so he said that won't be a problem. so he said next tuesday night we will change uniforms. you put on my jacket and tie and i will put on your chauffeur's uniform. so the chauffeur got up there and he was really -- he was excited about it and he gave a good talk. and then he was doing the q&a and he was doing very well. until a physicist, another physicist in the group stood up and asked one of these very technical questions. you know, if this and that, you know and so forth and how would this affect that. and a guy listened and he said you know, that sounds like a complicated question. he said, but it's actually pretty simple. i bet my chauffeur can answer that.
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[laughter] >> so i told how, you better be sure and have his chauffeur with him. one more washington store and then i will try to get serious. this one goes back to 1990 or so when gorbachev was visiting washington for the first time. and some of you may remember they talk was in full bloom and u.s. soviet relations were proving dramatically. and when his entourage were driving down k. street he actually had to stop and he got up and walk down the sidewalk, shaking hands with everyone. it was really quite a spontaneous sort of thing on his part, because he was just so excited by being in the united states and being able to meet with people on the street.
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so then he reciprocated the imitation and president bush went to moscow. and then one afternoon after they finish a formal meeting they were sitting around with their feet up with the interpreter, and they were talking about the problems of governing. and bush said, you know, for me one of the difficult things is getting the right person in the right position in the cabinet. he said that's really challenging. and he said how do you go about doing that? and gorbachev said, well, i have a list of questions that ask the candidates. and i'd evaluate their abilities based on their response. and bush said, well, like what sort of questions? and he said when i was interviewing for a foreign minister, i asked him the question, who was your father's son who is not your brother? and bush said, what did he say? and gorbachev said he said that
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to me. and bush thought about this for a bit, and he got back to washington, and he called in dan quayle and said dan, then he said, i've got a question for you. yes, mr. president. he said, then who is your father son who is not your brother? let me get back to you on that, mr. president. out he went. a day or two went by and he was thinking who is your father son who is not your brother? and then he was walking down the hall past henry kissinger's office and he said henry knows everything there so he knocked on the door and said henry, i've got a question for you. yes? who is your father son who is not your brother? kissinger said that to me. really? sure. well, down the hall he goes to the president. mr. president, you know the question you asked me, who is your father son was not your brother? its kissinger.
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[laughter] >> sometime later bush was calling gorbachev about something, and he said you know the question you asked hoosier father son who is not your brother? he said i asked dan quayle that, and he know it he said what he said it was henry kissinger. and i said no, it's jovanovski. [laughter] >> from time to time, i'm going to get serious now, from time to time i go back and read the literature particularly if there are any new articles, journal articles or what have you on early civilizations and their decline and collapse. the ones whose archaeological sites we study today. and what i've come to realize is that more often than not, the reason for the decline of early
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civilizations was at the client and their food supply. with the samaritans, it was the rise in the salt level in the soil. based on a fault in the design of which was otherwise an exceptional irrigation system. for the mayans it was deportation, soil erosion. answer whether it is them or the eastern islanders or the north settlement, that he writes about on greenland, it was the food supply that brought him down. and i have long rejected the idea that food could be the week late in our modern civilization. as i thought about it over the last couple of years or so, i have come to realize that the
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environmental trends that are undermining the world food economy, that we've been tracking tracking him for decades, are trends that we have not been able to reverse, whether it is soil erosion, collapsing fisheries, deforestation, grassland is your eurasian, these trends have been going on for sometime now and was not turned a single one of them around. you do not have to be an ecologist to see that if these continue, that even chile we will be in serious trouble. there used to be one source of additional manner for food. that was population growth. up until today, we are now adding 79 million people a year. that continues to be a major source of additional demand.
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a second source of additional demand is much more recent. mostly post-world war ii, and that is people rising up the food chain, consuming more and more grain intensified livestock products. that's now become a major source. we estimate that are probably close to 3 billion people in the world today trying to move up the food chain. and then the third fact, third source of additional demand of food is the conversion of grain into fuel for cars. this year we will harvest in this country just over 400 million tons of grain. of that, 100 million tons will be going to ethanol distilleries. to produce fuel for cars. so it's no wonder now with three sources of growing demand for food in the world, that we are seeing these extraordinary price rises. in the beginning of 2007, to
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late spring 2008, we saw a rise in wheat, rice and corn prices, roughly tripling. also soybean prices. and it took the worst economic meltdown since the great depression to curb that rise and begin to bring grain prices down. they are still not anywhere near back to normal, but at least they are not at the level they were. so we are facing real challenges on the demand side now. and then on the supply side, i'm not going to talk about all the trends, but i want to talk a minute about water. we drink about 4 liters of water a day. as water or pop or or coffee or whatever. about 4 liters of water a day. the food we consume requires about 2000 liters a day, or 500 times as much. food production is
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extraordinarily water intensive. i remember writing an article a few years ago, which i used these numbers and point out that we in effect the 2000 liters of water a day, and the editors circle this and in the margins it don't you mean 2000 liters a year? and that's not surprising, because it's not clear that we actually eat so much water. it takes a lot of water to produce food. and what we are looking at now is a world where water tables are falling in countries containing half the world's people. and that includes big three greengrocers, china, india and the united states. one of the most dramatic water stories which is unfolding in the world is in saudi arabia. after the arab oil export
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embargo in the 1970s, the souders realized they would be vulnerable because they were importing of their grain. so they began trying to figure out what to do. and using their oil drilling technology, they found a fossil aquifer about a half a mile down, a fossil aquifer is a fossil that is not naturally recharge. so they started pumping in and they had a support price about four times the world market level, which in doing can have a lot in oil money. and for more than 20 years they have been self-sufficient and reproduction. but last year they announced that aquifer was largely depleted and they would be reducing their grain harvest by 18 each year that intel by 2016 they would be out of the grain production business entirely, and dependent on imports to be what would then be a population
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size of 30 million people. now what's interesting about this is not so much the effect on the world grain balance because the saudi wheat harvest was under half percent of the world of ours. but what it does show us is what happens when countries deplete aquifers. yemen which borders saudi arabia has been much in the news in recent days because of that troubled border area. is also losing its irrigation water supply. the yemeni aquifer is replaceable, but they are pumping at four times the rate of recharge. so they're going to lose their irrigation water within a matter of years. but what really makes a difference is big countries. a world bank study of india points out, this is a 2005 study, points out that 15 percent of india's peoplere


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