Barney Frank gives speech on relationship between U.S. and Israel

Congressman Barney Frank speaks about the relationship between the United States and Israel.
Eugene W. Lau/Staff
Congressman Barney Frank speaks about the relationship between the United States and Israel.

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Well over a hundred UC Berkeley students, faculty and visitors arrived on campus Thursday night to listen to Congressman Barney Frank speak about Israel and its relationship with the United States.

The event – sponsored by the ASUC, the Jewish Student Union and the Tikvah Students for Israel – began with Frank’s 30-minute speech, followed by an open question-and-answer session in front of an audience that filled 155 Dwinelle to its maximum capacity.

“I’m a man of the left,” Frank said. “It is in that context that I am a strong supporter of Israel.”

Frank – a Democrat who represents Massachusetts – is the former chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services and announced in November that he will retire from Congress at the conclusion of his term in 2013.

“Congressman Frank is a well-respected politician,” said junior Jacob Lewis, co-president of the Tikvah Students for Israel. “What he’s done in his career appeals to Berkeley students, and he’s a champion of many progressive causes.”

Frank specifically touched on Israel’s democratic ideals, immigration policies, military and tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with Arab countries.

“The Israeli government has been a wholly democratic one from the beginning,” Frank said. “It is one of the freest democracies in the world.”

Frank attributed the primary reason for Israel’s 64 years of war to his belief that Palestinians are unwilling to make concessions.

“Israel has ceded more territory after war than any other country… I do believe Israel should be cutting back on settlements,” Frank said.

Prior to the event, Frank attended a dinner at Berkeley Hillel with members of the ASUC and executive members of the Jewish Student Union and Tikvah Students for Israel.

“He was able to level with other students and hold a discussion with us,” UC Berkeley Junior Michelle Cohn said. “It was great for him to come here and acknowledge the Jewish culture.”

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  • Jon Jackson

    He says Israel should be cutting back on settlements as if he were talking about extra helpings of cake. A breathtaking ignorance on the history of the conflict, let alone the history of the creation of Israel. It’s disheartening that such an uninformed person is in a position of power. Because of Frank and others in Congress the most right wing government in Israel’s history receives billions of USD per year while Americans are hurting

  • Current student

    how is Israel a democracy when the government reserves certain neighborhoods for only Jews to live in?

    • Mnnth

      Name one, Current student. Well, maybe one days they can aspire to be any of the Islamic countries that burn down churches or destroy ancient Buddhist temples and statues. 

  • So where did all the previous comments go?

  • Vermillion

    Funny how the sleaziest politician in America would rather talk about Israel than Phonie Mae and Fraudie Mac, which we taxpayers now owe more than $100 billion to.

  • sanity

    Did anyone ask Frank how supporting a theocracy and a nation that regularly carries out acts of racially-driven ethnic cleansing is good for America?

    • Mnnth

      Are you talking about Turkey’s cleansing of Kurds and Armenians? Or Syria’s cleansing of non-Alawites? Or Egypt’s cleansing of Coptic Christians? Please specify since you certainly are referring to one or all of those racist states. 

  • libertyfreedom

    Did anyone ask Frank how undermining the American economy  with Dodd-Frank would help Israel?