I noted on a recent thread that my esteemed colleagues here were less than complimentary about Emily Maitlis. So when her name cropped up while I was Googling Intelligence Squared debates, I thought I’d plonk the debate above the line.
This was the proposition:
The world should recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
Ehud Olmert and Jack Straw were among the debaters. I’m sure I don’t need to state which side Jack Straw was on.
There was an extraordinary moment after the Palestinian speaker had spouted the customary fallacious nonsense against Israel and was challenged by Maitlis over her exaggeration of Gaza fatalities in the confrontation with the IDF on the border. It might have to go down as the first time the BBC ever bluntly told a Palestinian she was being economical with the truth.
If that wasn’t enough to make me fall off my chair there was an even stronger challenge from Maitlis after Olmert’s partner, a UK barrister, pointed out that the Palestinian debater is not prepared to recognize Israel within any boundaries at all.
Having recovered from the fall off the chair I watched the rest of the debate with increased interest. Maitlis also strongly challenged the Israeli side and I have to conclude that overall she didn’t do a bad job at all as chair.
I haven’t been able to find out where the debate was held but the audience was evidently slanted – surprise, surprise – in favour of the Palestinians. Still, there was considerable support for the proposition and I came away from the debate with the impression that the UK tide might finally be turning against the Arab side of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
But perhaps that is unduly optimistic.