Robert Satloff is executive director of The Washington Institute, a post he assumed in January 1993.
Is Israel an asset or liability to the United States? This question -- which goes to the heart of U.S. policy in the Middle East -- has emerged as a focus of intense debate. If Israel is judged a net asset to the United States, then the U.S.-Israel partnership is established on a firm foundation that will not be shaken by passing political fashion. Yet if Israel is judged a net liability, then advocates of close U.S.-Israel ties will have an increasingly difficult time making their case to the policy community and in the court of public opinion.
In July 2010, the Nixon Center -- a Washington-based research institute -- hosted a debate on this issue that has since reverberated around the country and around the world. Participating were Dr. Robert Satloff, executive director of The Washington Institute and its Howard P. Berkowitz Chair in U.S. Middle East policy, and Ambassador Chas Freeman, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton administration.
This special publication includes prepared remarks by the debaters, their rebuttals, and their back-and-forth exchanges. We believe that publishing the full text of the debate will help clarify this vital issue, because only with analytical clarity comes sound policy.