Are you okay, Marc? I have a hankie you can use to wipe away that rolling teardrop that Alan Dershowitz possibly caused during your heated debate on Israel and Gaza during CNN Tonight on Monday.
The weird thing is that Marc Lamont Hill was actually crying over Israel (GASP!) defending itself against both rocket attacks and secret tunnels built from Gaza into Israel for the purpose of killing and kidnapping. A video was posted by Soopermexican showing Hill's tear of absurdly misplaced compassion (or was it frustration from arguing with Dershowitz?) rolling down his cheek.
DON LEMON: We're following the breaking news in the Middle East, so you skies of Gaza there, Israel pounding targets all night long in Gaza. Palestinian officials say at least 18 people have been killed. The U.S. has tried to negotiate a cease-fire, but so far that hasn't worked out. What should the U.S. role be?
Joining me now is Marc Lamont Hill. He's a CNN political commentator. Peter Beinart is a CNN political commentator as well and a columnist for "Haaretz." And Alan Dershowitz, attorney, is back with us this evening.
Peter, to you first.
The United States has long been Israel's biggest supporter, and that is not going to change. But as you watch this shelling tonight, do you have any reservations about Israel's conduct in Gaza?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, Israel has the right to defend itself, but Israel also needs a military strategy against Hamas. Israel's problem is that there have been Palestinian leaders over the past several years who have not been launching rockets at Israel -- in fact, they have been doing security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank -- who have accepted Israel's right to exist, Mahmoud Abbas, for instance, Salam Fayyad.
They have gotten nothing from this Israeli government, except further and further settlement growth. So Palestinians don't see that nonviolence and acceptance of Israel's right to exist has gotten them anywhere. That's what frightens me. That's what really strengthens Hamas.
If we really want to undermine and weaken Hamas, Israel needs to not only respond militarily. It needs to show Palestinians that recognizing Israel's right to exist and pursuing their cause nonviolently works. This government has made that course a failure.
LEMON: And, Marc, I want to talk to you, because what Peter says about political support for Israel is bipartisan, I want to you take a listen to some officials from both sides today. And then we will talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think America must send this clear public and united message. Israel is our friend and Israel's enemies are our enemies. And as long...
BOEHNER: And as long as I'm speaker of the House, I give you my word, this will be our cause.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a time of worry for all who care about Israel. But here's one thing you never have to worry about, America's support for the state of Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So bipartisan support for Israel, Marc.
And I want to go back to something you told me yesterday. You said that the U.S. should impose sanctions against Israel. But you just heard folks from opposite sides of the aisle there giving uncompromising support for Israel. Are Israel's interests much in line with the United States, much more so than Hamas?
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, they're very much, much more in line with the United States' interests, United States' interests, friends and enemies in the region. And Israel becomes the arm of the United States foreign policy in the region, which is why they have unequivocal, unwavering support of Israel.
And, quite frankly, supporting Israel as an American politician is like kissing a baby. It is the safest position to take. And of course we want to protect Israel's right to exist. No one wants to see innocent Israeli lives lost. No one wants to see anything but the protection of Israeli lives.
However, that can't come at the expense of Palestinian lives. And right now is an opportunity for the United States to exercise moral leadership and speak against this offensive siege that's being waged in Gaza. And that's my point. I don't want to see Israel lose its right to defend itself. I want to see Israel stop engaging in an offensive against -- in Gaza.
And also it is important to say -- and this is to Alan's point earlier -- yes, Israel has the right to defend itself from outside threats. And he draws the comparison to what would you do if you were in the United States?
But it's a very different circumstances. You can't on the one assume an occupation role and then treat it as a foreign power. Gaza is being occupied. The region is being occupied. You can't on the one hand occupy it and then treat it like a foreign territory which is then launching threats against it.
They have an international responsibility, according to Hague regulations, Article 47, according to all sorts of international law, to treat Gaza very differently. That's the point.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Just wrong.
DERSHOWITZ: Just wrong. That's just wrong.
Israel ended its occupation completely in 2005.
HILL: That's untrue.
BEINART: That's untrue.
HILL: That's disingenuous.
DERSHOWITZ: No. It is absolutely true.
LEMON: Hang on, Alan. Why is it not true?
HILL: It's not true because there are international standards for occupation. They still control electromagnetic space, the airspace, the naval space, the population registry. Every single measure of occupation, they satisfy all the conditions for occupation.
BEINART: According to the United States government, Israel occupies Gaza.
DERSHOWITZ: We're not talking about -- now we're talking about 2005, 2007.
And, by the way, if that was the policy, then we will never get a two- state solution, because Israel will always have to have some military presence in the West Bank as a security border. That is an unconditional requirement for Israel's success. Both of your speakers have very short memories. They forget that, in 2000-2001, Israel offered to end the occupation, to create a two-state solution. Arafat said no. In 2007, Olmert offered to end the occupation, create a two-state solution. Abbas did not respond.
You have to remember that Israel has since 1948 favored the two-state solution.
DERSHOWITZ: And Hamas has said no, no, no.
BEINART: Two weeks ago, this Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said very explicitly he does not support the two-state solution. So we are now in a reality...
DERSHOWITZ: That's not true.
BEINART: It is true, absolutely. He said Israel would maintain permanent military control over the West Bank. That is not...
DERSHOWITZ: That's right, and there would be a two-state solution.
BEINART: You cannot have a Palestinian state in which another state, Israel, has permanent military control of it.
DERSHOWITZ: When the other Palestinian state stops sending rockets, then that will end. A military occupation can continue until the military threat is over. That is clear under international law.
HILL: But, Alan, so now you're at least conceding the fact that it is a military occupation. A moment ago, you were not.
DERSHOWITZ: There is no military occupation in Gaza. There is in the West Bank. Don't put words in my mouth, please.
HILL: In 2005, you're right, 8,000 settlers were moved out. There was a shift.
However, Palestinian people in Gaza -- people in Gaza have not exercised one day of self-governance, one day of control, one day where their movements haven't been completely controlled.
DERSHOWITZ: That's not true. Between 2005 and 2007, they had an election.
LEMON: Let Marc finish and then we will let Peter get in.
DERSHOWITZ: Jimmy Carter monitored it.
BEINART: Alan, between 2005 and 2007, Israel had a security perimeter inside the Gaza Strip, from which Palestinians were barred from entering. How on earth can you say that Israel was not occupying between 2005 and 2007?
DERSHOWITZ: It was not occupying it. They were free. They could have created a state.
They could have built beautiful...
DERSHOWITZ: Remember the settlers? The Israelis left the settlement, left the settlements. They left hothouses, greenhouses.
They could have built a beautiful, beautiful state. Instead, they turned to rockets. They turned to tunnels. They used all of their resources not to feed their residents, not to help their residents, but to build tunnels and to build rockets to try to destroy Israel's right to exist. That's reality. You cannot paint that in a more positive way.
BEINART: Yes, but, then, Alan, how come you had a Palestinian leader in the West Bank who did accept Israel's right to exist, who did terrific security cooperation, and got...
DERSHOWITZ: And they offered him a state. And he said no.
BEINART: No, in fact, not this government at all.
This government has never been willing to put any map on the table about territory and has never accepted the '67 lines.
LEMON: OK. We're going to have to wrap it up. We're going to have to wrap it up.
LEMON: Alan, I will let you get a word in. Everyone will get a word.
First, Alan, quickly.
Olmert is part of the Israeli government. He offered them a state. They did not accept it. They now regret it. And I wish we can finally have a two-state solution with peace on both sides.
BEINART: We have now a Palestinian leader who is within the Clinton parameters, publicly stated, that Bill Clinton laid out in December 2000, an Israeli government that is not.
This may be hard for supporters of the two-state solution to come to terms with, but, sadly, it is the reality.
LEMON: And Marc?
LEMON: Marc, go ahead.
HILL: There's nothing more frustrating than this idea somehow that the Palestinian people had the opportunity for Shangri-La and instead turned to violence and destruction. That is simply...
DERSHOWITZ: That's right. It's true. It's true.
HILL: Repeating that it is true doesn't make it any...
LEMON: Marc, continue.
DERSHOWITZ: Between 2005 and 2007...
HILL: Alan, that is not true. As soon as Hamas was elected in 2006, there was a military imposition and a siege started. That is simply untrue. But the point is that...
DERSHOWITZ: That's after the rockets.
HILL: That is not after the rockets. Gaza is an open-air prison.
DERSHOWITZ: After the rockets.
LEMON: Alan, let him finish. You had your chance. Let him finish.
LEMON: Go ahead, Marc.
HILL: Gaza is an open-air prison. People's movements are restricted. People's ability to self-determine is restricted.
In the midst of all of that, to look at rockets and tunnels and say somehow that Israel is on the defensive is simply untrue. It is empirically untrue. And it violates international law.
LEMON: Let's hope that lives will stop being lost very soon and they will reach some sort of a agreement.
Perhaps Hill hopes that silly explanation about why reacting to rocket attacks and secret tunnels is not defensive will wipe away his tear. In any event perhaps Marc Lamont Hill should take up Johnny Ray's song, "Cry," as his theme tune.