Ronen Bergman is one of Israel's leading investigative journalists. The senior security and intelligence correspondent and analyst for Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and an anchor on a leading Israeli television news program, he is the author of three bestselling books published in Israel. He was awarded a PhD by Cambridge University for his dissertation about the Israeli Mossad.
Question: What would you change about the American government’s approach to Israel?
Ronen Bergman: Well, I would say this. Take out the religious, more ideological factor of the [George W.] Bush regime during the last 8 years and just stay with the basics.
I can say that all American Presidents see Israel as a valid, necessary asset, in the Middle East. It’s the only country in the region that represent American values, not just in terms of militarily, on the intelligence sphere, but social, democratical [sic] values.
America sees Israel as the intelligence eyes and ears for it in the Middle East, as a valuable ally that is, in most cases, under America’s orders what to do and what not to do. And I don’t think that Israeli Prime Ministers today, or in the last ten years, would take any crucial decision without America’s consent.
And I would say that, still, Israel, America, in spite of all other views that were in debate in the United States in the last few years, whether the US have bet the wrong horse, etc., but still the American government, whichever government it is, sees Israel as the most valuable asset in the region, something that should be supported and a country that America should guarantee for its national security priority.
Question: How do Israelis view the U.S. presidential election?
Ronen Bergman: The Israeli view of the American political system is extremely superficial, and it focuses only with one question and one question only. If you had both candidates running for Israeli Prime Minister office, you would probably have a third one and winning: George [W.] Bush, with a vast majority. Why? Because the only question asked here and this question as well, in a very superficial view, is whether this is good or bad for Israel.
George [W.] Bush is seen to be very good and so he would win with massive, massive majority. If you had [Barack] Obama against [John] McCain, because some of the Israeli propaganda is saying that McCain is going to be tougher on Iran -- I don’t know if it’s true or not, but this is the sense of that propaganda -- then you will have McCain winning. Israeli public is not getting into the real differences or the real heritage of the last eight years of Republican rule.
Question: What do Israelis think of Bush’s Christian Evangelism?
Ronen Bergman: Well, again, because the only reflection counts is how the American government treats Israel. So, once you have someone who has basically a right-wing, neocon [i.e. neconservative], evangelist views that Israel should be strong, the Iranians and the Arab are bad, and that basically supports Israeli actions against Iran or against the Palestinians. Then, of course, you get much support from the Israeli public.
Recorded: Sep 19, 2008.
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