Jewish Journal


May 30, 2008

McCain talks the hawk talk with Jeffrey Goldberg


Jeffrey Goldberg got his new blog off to a good start three weeks ago by publishing an interview with Barack Obama that was quoted just about everywhere in the American press. Today he follows up with conversation with John McCain. Here’s how he opens it:

The two candidates, who are scheduled to address the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C. early next week, have well-developed thoughts on the Middle East, and their differences are stark. Obama sees the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as central to America’s problems in the Middle East; McCain names Islamic extremism as the most formidable challenge. Obama sees Jewish settlements as a primary obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians; McCain downplays settlements as an issue, instead identifying Hamas’ rocket attacks on the Israeli town of Sderot as the most pressing problem. And both men take very different positions on the issue of Philip Roth.

In our conversation, McCain took a vociferously hard line on Iran (and a similarly hard line on Senator Obama’s understanding of the challenge posed by Iran). He accused Iran of not only seeking the destruction of Israel, but of sponsoring terrorist groups – Hamas and Hezbollah – that are bent on the destruction of the United States. And he said that the defense of Israel is a central tenet of American foreign policy. When I asked him why he is so concerned about Iranian threats against Israel, he said – in a statement that will surely placate Jewish voters who are particularly concerned about existential threats facing Israel – “The United States of America has committed itself to never allowing another Holocaust.”

Quite a bit drier and doing a lot of question-dodging, McCain mainly answers questions about his plan for engaging Iran and says the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a “constant sore,” as Obama said, but “a national security challenge.”


Here’s the transcript, and a humorous exchange after McCain interpreted a question as probing for criticism of President Bush. (Yeah, he doesn’t deserve that. He’s the president!).

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