Monday, May 23, 2011

Deal or No Deal

The problem of speaking your mind, honestly and openly in a world that is toxic from political rhetoric and invective.

There's an enormous brouhaha erupting right now over President Obama's endorsement of the 1967 borders (plus mutually agreed upon land swaps) as a starting point for meaningful peace talks between Israel and the PalestiniansCyberspace is choking with articles and commentaries deriding the president as naive, or foolish, or worse.  Facebook is swarming with anti-Obama posts (unfortunately, that's nothing new).  The twitterati are out in full force. 

It's as if no one had ever suggested it before.  The facts are much different than we would be led to believe.

American presidents, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have consistently instructed their foreign policy aides to pursue an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians using the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed land swaps, as a basis for talks. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in fact, made such a proposal to the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in 2008.

Talks have to begin somewhere.  Why not there?

Yes, those borders are difficult to defend.  Ideally, they should not need to be defended.  That is the whole purpose of negotiations: to resolve the differences between the two peoples and institute a lasting peace based on mutual respect, not distrust.

This must be the goal of negotiations.  At some point both sides have to agree to live together in peace.  There is no other viable solution but that.  I don't imagine that it will be an easy task, resolving this poisonous conflict.

But, if the parties do not embrace the immense challenges presented by a vision of living together with difficult choices, then futures generations of Israelis and Palestinians are going to die because of a failure of courage and imagination today.

Thanks, and good luck.


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