My favorite comment on the debate is Philip Weiss’s ironic

I apologize to readers for underestimating the importance of the Israel lobby in our politics. Israel was mentioned 31 times in last night’s debate, Palestinians once, global warming — never.

Meanwhile, Haaretz‘s Gideon Levy reports on a poll in which most Israelis say they would support an apartheid regime denying constitutional and civil rights to Arabs if and when Israel annexes the West Bank. That clearly is where we headed, since Israel has no intention of withdrawing from the West Bank and allowing a Palestinian state. If last night’s debate was any indication, no American president is going to persuade them to.

The destination couldn’t be clearer: Israel will be an apartheid state. Will America make a special, privileged relationship with an apartheid state the centerpiece of its Middle East policy? That of course remains to be seen, but I personally doubt the Israel lobby will have enough clout to enforce this.

I had the privilege of expounding on these issues on Capitol Hill recently at a forum of Middle East Policy Council. When they post a transcript and segment the videos I’ll discuss it in more detail, but a webcast of the event is here. To reiterate, I don’t believe given America’s traditions and core values, that an alliance with an apartheid state will endure as the lynchpin of our policy towards a critical region of the world. You would hardly guess so from last night’s debate, but a political contest over that issue will be at the core of American politics over the next generation.