Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Contributed by Datta
"At the latest Doha Debate held at the prestigious Oxford Union in the United Kingdom on May 1st, two-thirds of the student audience approved a motion claiming that Israel's supporters are stifling Western debate about Israel's actions.
The event at the world famous debating society of Oxford University marked the first time the Doha Debates have been held outside Qatar.
The Debate took place amid mounting controversy over the role of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States and accusations that it has suppressed criticism of Israel - a charge that the lobby vigorously denies.
Norman Finkelstein, an American academic and a leading critic of Israeli policies, argued in favour of the motion claiming that the pro-Israel lobby sows confusion to avoid being held to account. The journalist and writer Andrew Cockburn also supported this view, claiming there are "red lines" in discussing Israel that no politician or journalist in the US would dare cross for fear of being demonised or driven out of public life.
Dr Martin Indyk, former US Ambassador to Israel and Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, argued strongly against the motion, saying that the recent 'firestorms' around President Carter's book and the Walt and Mearsheimer report are proof of a lively debate on the subject . His fellow panellist David Aaronovitch, the British journalist and broadcaster, dismissed accusations of conspiracy around the lobby and said that there simply isn't a lobby in the UK in the same way that there is in the United States.
A group of students from universities and high schools in Doha travelled to the UK to join students from Oxford to question the speakers."