Speaker 5: I am Bob Pace, Mr. Ambassador David, two part question if I may.  How do you assess Turkey’s recent rather surprising diplomatic activism in the Middle East and second how does that activity mesh with America’s diplomatic goals in the region?

Speaker 2: Thank you very much Bob.  I have to say first of all that I don’t know enough about Turkish politics to know why Turkey has entered a period of considerably greater activism in regard to the problems in the Middle East.  I do know this it is done that partly because of the fault by the United States.  We were not stepping up to the Mark.  There was a diplomatic vacuum and fortunately I think for us and for the various parties concerned.  Very skillful Turkish diplomacy made a partial compensation for the absence of American diplomacy.  I can remember literally scores of times in the past when I was a state department official when the Israelis would call upon us to help them communicate with the Syrians and we would of course do so, but in recent history it has been the opposite and we have actually discouraged efforts by the Israelis to reach out to the Syrians.  So to the extent I understand it.  I think it is more the fault of American policy, but there are doubtless some internal reasons to Turkish politics that have led them to be more active in this regard as well.

Speaker 1: The lady at the back, please.

Speaker 6: Hi, I am Cynthia Butler and an attorney here.  It is really interesting that Iran has not really acknowledged that Israel has the right to exist and Israel feels its existential threat [???] discussing with them anyway, presumably because people believe it is not legitimate barrier to not to talk to somebody if they don’t think you should exist.  But short of the two states solution is there anything that could encourage them to acknowledge Israel as the [???] and also you know, when you speak to Iranians on a personal level they always are quick to tell you, oh we loved you [???] the great and you know, so it is not a personal thing you know, so is there some shift internally in the Iranian politics, they could short of a two stage solution you know, cause them to [???] perhaps the way or Turkey and actually involve [???]

Speaker 2: Right now of course the level of rhetoric and rhetorical exchanges between Israel and Iran is at a very high level of intensity and [???].  But it hasn’t always been true and there is a long history of behind the scenes efforts by both Iranians and Israelis to reach out to one another.  I recommend to anybody who is really interested in exploring this subject a recent book published by an author Trita Parsi who is another scholar at the Middle East Institute and his book describes the tangled relationships and secret contacts among the United States, Israel and Iran over several decades and how very often there were secret discussions going on that eventually would kind of misfire because one or another party decided not to continue in that path, but I think the chances are very good that overtime there will be a new level of understanding between Israel and Iran.  There is nothing immutable about the current Iranian policy toward Israel as expressed by President Ahmadi Nizaad and there is I think nothing immutable about the current Israeli notion that they face in existential threat from Iran.  I think that those things can be ameliorated overtime.  It will help a lot if the Unites States has some kind of normalized dialogue with Iran so that we can play a useful role.  But I suspect also that both Tehran, there are people in Tehran and there are people in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv who are trying to figure out how to get in touch with one another in a very discreet way to try to lower the level of these tensions.

Speaker 1: [???] yes please.

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