I’m going to speak locally here in Seattle twice in one day this week! On Wednesday, March 12th I’ve been invited to participate in the Great Decisions 2014 forum sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association. The general topic for these national conversations taking place in communities across American is “America’s Global Affairs” in all its ramifications. Most of the speakers in the series–whose topics have dealt with environmental issues, China, energy, and the Islamic Awakening–are faculty of the University of Washington. So I’m in august company. I’ll be speaking on U.S.-Israel relations at University Unitarian Church from 11AM-1PM. I’ll offer a short history of the relationship going back to Harry Truman and 1948, covering the growth of the Israel Lobby, and the tumultuous current relationship between our countries.
The Mideast Focus Ministry of St. Mark’s Cathedral has invited me to moderate the film, The Gatekeepers, part of its Israel-Palestine film series. The film will screen in Skinner Hall at 7PM. This is Dror Moreh’s award-winning documentary which brought together all of the living former chiefs of the Shin Bet to speak of the most complex, ambiguous moral conundrums they faced during their careers. They review pivotal decisions they made and policies they pursued which often, in hindsight, appear far less productive, far more morally compromised, than they did at the time.
The film also brings into focus a phenomenon that is almost as troubling as the problematic policies these individuals pursued: that is, the 20-20 hindsight they offer in which they now renounce their former misdeeds and clamor for moral absolution. While they served, they were as cut-throat as they come. In retirement, they all of a sudden become doves, lovers of peace and pursuers of Arab-Jewish understanding. Is this real? What motivates such a “transformation?” Does it have any moral validity?