The Wall Street Journal opinion page is one of the most reliably pro-Israel editorial pages in the country. When its deputy editorial page editor, Bret Stephens — who also has the distinction of being the youngest person ever appointed editor of the Jerusalem Post — spoke at Drexel University this week, he not only carried the WSJ flag in the pro-Israel department, but explained why others should join his camp.
Stephens began his talk by explaining that his philosophy on current events in the Middle East came courtesy of the comedian Larry David from “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
“These revolutions are against something, but it is not clear what they are for,” Stephens said. One thing that worries him is that “nice guys finish last in the Middle East.”
“Saddam Hussein overthrew King Faisal; King Idris was replaced by Muammar Gaddafi,” said Stephens. “Whoever takes over faces a mountain of socio-economic problems exacerbated by the demographic crisis. Approximately 50% of Arabs are under the age of 25. They do not have jobs, and cannot get married because of the lack of jobs.”
He is concerned about the “closed Muslim mind.”
“Egyptians are anti-Semitic. Commentators on Egyptian television, whether they are a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or an Egyptian liberal, blamed the Mossad for the bombing of the Coptic Church on New Year’s Eve, “ he said.
The original topic of his talk, which was scheduled before the demonstrations in the Middle East, was “Why Liberals Should Be for Israel.” Stephens suggested asking liberals that are hostile to Israel, if they are “for gay rights, women’s rights, minority representation in parliament?”
If they are, he said, “Tell them that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that respects these rights. There are no gay rights in Gaza, women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, and minority representation in Egypt.”
Liberals who are only hostile to Israel are a particular thorn in his side. Stephens says to these critics of Israel: “I see that you are worried about the Palestinians in Israel. Were you worried that the Russians were violating the rights of the Chechens or concerned about the rights of the Libyans before a few weeks ago?”
Stephens would like to alter the current Israeli response to a terrorist bombing. Instead of decrying the violence, he suggests, “We are for a two-state solution. This violence affirms that the Palestinians are not ready to take care of themselves in their own state, but want to destroy our state.”
Stephens does not see much of a distinction between being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. He remarked, “We Jews have allowed this distinction and tolerated anti-Semitism. Comedian Michael Richards was run out of polite society for his racist comments about blacks. Stephen Walt from Harvard University gets a $600,000 book contract and membership on the editorial board of Foreign Policy for his offensive comments about Israel. We are entitled to free speech, but that guarantee does not come with a $600,000 book contract.”
Stephens took a few minutes to talk about Iran and paint a picture of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When he met with Ahmadinejad for breakfast, Stephens recalled, “He said that he was good to the Jews because the 20,000 Jews left in Iran had one representative in Parliament. Other groups did not get their own representative unless they had 500, 000 members.”
Stephens outlined his suggestions for ousting the current Iranian regime. He suggests, “President Obama should meet and embrace Iranian dissidents.” He favors circumventing the embargo against Iran in certain circumstances. He wants the “United States to provide the Iranian dissidents with secure texting technology so that they can safely communicate with each other.”