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.”