Monday, April 09, 2012

Mike Wallace interviews Abba Eban, 1958

After CBS' Mike Wallace died Sunday, it is illuminating to see this combative 1958 interview he held with Abba Eban.

Wallace pressed Eban about Israel's "aggression" in 1948 and demanded how Israel could justify holding onto the 1949 armistice lines!

Many people today believe that those 1949 armistice lines were considered "international borders." They were nothing of the sort, and this interview shows where Israel was reminded over and over again at the time that those armistice lines were temporary and fragile.

It is also instructive to see how Israel's critics were saying then that Israel could not possibly survive economically, mirroring arguments that were made before Israel was born and those made years after this interview. Israel is still here, those critics are not.

Wallace also echoes the Walt and Mearsheimer argument that US friendship towards Israel was at too high a cost compared to what it could lose from the Arab world, showing again that the constant kerfuffles created by Israel's critics are hardly original.

Finally, Wallace quotes a Jewish anti-Zionist, reform rabbi Elmer Berger, echoing the charges made today ("Israel-Firsters")  that Israel demands loyalty from world Jewry at the expense of their own countries. It seems that even then Jewish critics of Israel gained much fame and fortune for their opinions among certain crowds - and yet they and their hate are soon forgotten, to be replaced by newer editions of the same old arguments. (Berger praised the Soviet Union's treatment of its Jews and supported the Arab side of the 1967 war.)

Eban does very well in this interview. Wallace comes across as being hostile towards Israel's very existence.