Ha’aretz journalist Amir Oren has challenged likely Republican nominee for US President , Senator John McCain, to a lie detector test over the latter’s denial that he said Israel should return to 1967 armistice lines.
This week, Senator John McCain took heat because of an interview that he granted two years ago to Amir Oren, a credible journalist from the Israeli newspaper HaAretz, on May 1, 2006, in which Mr. McCain declared that his administration “would send “the smartest guy I know” to the Middle East …. “Brent Scowcroft, or Jim Baker though I know that you in Israel don’t like Baker.”
Mr. McCain added “I would expect concessions and sacrifices by both sides.”
When Mr. Oren asked Mr. McCain if that meant a “movement toward the June 4, 1967 armistice lines, with minor modifications? McCain nodded in the affirmative.”
To deflect criticism that he has encountered on the 2008 campaign trail, the McCain campaign has been quoting an article by John B. Judis., senior editor at The New Republic who wrote in an article in that publication on October 25, 2006 that Mr. McCain was “miffed at his portrayal in HaAretz,” saying that “after reading the HaAretz article and subsequent report in The Jewish Press [in New York],” he felt the need to “clear up several serious misimpressions.” Mr. McCain said that “in contrast to the impression left by the HaAretz article, I’ve never held the position that Israel should return to 1967 lines, and that is not my position today.”
The senator repeated this week what he said to the New Republic which was that “in the course of that brief, off-the-cuff conversation, I never discussed settlement blocs, a total withdrawal, or anything of the sort.”
Reached at his desk in Tel Aviv, Mr. Oren told The Bulletin that Mr. McCain is simply “not telling the truth”, and that he would gladly invite him to a polygraph to see who is telling the truth. He said Mr. McCain indeed recommended Mr. Baker and Mr. Snowcroft as his potential candidates to deal with the Middle East, and that he clearly answered in the affirmative when it came to Mr. McCain’s expectations of Israel, and how it should relate to further withdrawals. Mr. Oren said that Mr. McCain stated clearly that Israel’s policy should be one of “defending itself and withdrawing, defending itself and withdrawing.” Far from an off the cuff conversation, Mr. Oren told the Bulletin that this was a formal interview that Mr. McCain provided him at the the Brussels Forum for American-European Relations, following an interview that Mr. McCain provided to the Washington Post. Mr. Oren mentioned to the Bulletin that the interview was conducted in the presence of Mr. McCain’s aide, Richard Fontaine.
Coming on an auspicious day when Israel faced more than 20 missile attacks from the Gaza area from which Israel withdrew its troops and citizens from only two years ago, at the insistence of the U.S. government, these words from Mr. McCain may not ring favorably with American voters who do not want Israel to be pushed by future American administrations. To conduct further withdrawals of troops and citizens to the 1967 lines – which would provide further areas in Judea and Samaria from which Palestinian terrorists would launch be able to launch further missile attacks on the vast majority of Israel’s population, would be unacceptable to many. It would position Israeli citizens who live along the coastal region of Israel, inside the pre-1967 lines, between six and 12 miles from the hilly region that would come under Palestinian control – and Israel’s only airport, in Lod, less than five miles from Palestinian missile sights.
Mr. Oren was clearly upset to hear Mr. McCain was challenging the veracity of the interview from two years ago. In Mr. Oren’s words, Mr. McCain should “show the same courage on the campaign trail that he showed in Vietnam.”