Petraeus: Israel’s establishment ‘made world better’

The Holocaust survivors who helped build Israel “made our world better,” U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said.

“The men and women who walked or were carried out of the death camps, and their descendents, have enriched our world immeasurably in the sciences and in the arts, in literature and in philanthropy,” said Petraeus, the key note speaker at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum commemoration in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday.

“They have made extraordinary contributions in academia, in business, and in government.  And, they have, of course, helped build a nation that stands as one of our great allies.  The survivors have, in short, made our country and our world better, leaving lasting achievements wherever they settled.”

Petraeus’ speech comes just days after the commander of Central Command, who directs U.S. deployments in the Middle East, said “Israel is—has been, is and will be an important strategic ally of the United States.”

Petraeus has sought to place in context his Senate testimony last month which drew some conservative and pro-Israel crticism—and some liberal praise —for linking some U.S. difficulties in the region with perceptions that the United States favors Israel.

ADL: Petraeus testimony ‘counterproductive’

The Anti-Defamation League said a top U.S. general’s analysis of the role of the Israeli-Arab conflict in frustrating the U.S. mission in the Middle East was “dangerous and counterproductive.”

Gen. David Petraeus, in Senate testimony this week, outlined a number of areas that impeded U.S. interests in the Central Command, the area that he commands and that includes the Middle East.

Petraeus first outlined five “major threats,” none of them directly related to the Israel-Arab conflict.

He then listed a second tier of a dozen “challenges,” one of them being “insufficient progress toward a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.”

Devoting a paragraph to the matter in 56 pages of prepared testimony, he said: “The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hezbollah and Hamas.” He did not offer recommendations.

In a statement Thursday, the ADL said: “The General’s assertions lead to the illusory conclusion that if only there was a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S. could successfully complete its mission in the region. Gen. Petraeus has simply erred in linking the challenges faced by the U.S. and coalition forces in the region to a solution of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and blaming extremist activities on the absence of peace and the perceived U.S. favoritism for Israel. This linkage is dangerous and counterproductive.”

Petraeus here, Sir, with my surge report