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Debaters debate stifling debate

Debaters arguing that the pro-Israel lobby stifles debate won a debate at the Oxford Union. The proposal, “This House believes the pro-Israeli lobby has successfully stifled Western debate about Israel’s actions,” was affirmed in a vote by the two-century-old debating society at Oxford Union in a May 1 debate. Norman Finkelstein, an academic at DePaul University in Chicago who is a strident Israel critic; and Andrew Cockburn, a Marxist theorist who has called for Israel’s dissolution, argued in the affirmative. Martin Indyk, a onetime pro-Israel lobbyist and former U.S. ambassador to Israel who now heads the Saban Institute, a Washington think tank that has criticized some Israeli policies; and British columnist David Aaronovitch argued against.