10/23/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Will Lehrer Ask McCain, Obama About Israeli-Palestinian Peace?

The first 2008 presidential debate between Senator Obama and Senator McCain will focus on foreign policy and will occur this coming Friday. Jim Lehrer of PBS will moderate the debate.

As we have seen repeatedly in this election season, what gets asked by debate moderators is as important as what the candidates are prepared to say. If debate moderators decide to ask about nonsense, then the result will likely be a nonsense debate.

When debate moderators are from the corporate media, they tend to reflect the worldview of their employers. And what their employers are interested in seeing addressed may be - and often is - very different from what the public would like to see addressed.

But as an employee of public broadcasting, Jim Lehrer works for us.

Will Jim Lehrer ask the candidates what they intend to do to help bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians? There is just one debate between the candidates focused on foreign policy, so if this question is not addressed in Friday's debate, it might not be addressed in any debate.

The U.S. government has long acknowledged - including in repeated statements by Secretary of State Rice, as recently as last month - that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are a key stumbling block to peace. The question is whether this U.S. policy of opposition will be made a priority.

The New York Times noted last month that in the last year Israel had nearly doubled its settlement construction in the West Bank, in violation of its obligations under a U.S.-backed peace plan, citing Peace Now's authoritative report.

Urge Jim Lehrer to ask the Presidential candidates what they will specifically do to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace and end the policy of Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.