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Question Time for Kean

Thomas Kean, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission, was on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday, taking queries from Tim Russert, one of the toughest questioners in network news. On December 8, anyone with some spare time (and a little luck) could win the chance to play anchorman, when Kean delivers a free, public lecture at the Jewish Center, a synagogue on New York City’s Upper West Side: The former New Jersey governor is scheduled to take questions from the audience.

What to ask a dignified public servant who has been on both ends of countless tough questions during the past year?

On at least one important topic — Israel — Kean and his fellow commissioners have been virtually silent, even as the debate grows over the role of the Jewish state in America’s confrontation with the Muslim world.

In a little-noticed passage, the final report of the bipartisan commission stated that “right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples” of Islamic rage against America. According to the report, Osama bin Laden has capitalized on this anger, using it to rally the Islamic masses and attract recruits, including key figures in the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. But the report offered no concrete recommendations.

Here, then, are a few suggested questions for Russert-wannabees planning to attend Kean’s speech:

Can the United States win the war against Islamic fundamentalism without the establishment of a Palestinian state?

Was British Prime Minister Tony Blair — our strongest ally in Iraq — right to assert that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “the single most pressing political challenge in our world today”?

Will American pressure on Israel’s prime minister serve to bolster moderate Islamic voices or embolden Islamic terrorists?

Are critics of the pro-Israel lobby right when they say that Jewish political strength has made it impossible to debate such an important facet of the war on terrorism?

Let us know what he says.

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