WILL HE OR WON’T HE?
I’ve been gone all week -- gone from work, gone from my home, and best of all, gone from my computer. So I haven’t had time to type out a blog post, let alone conceive one. But I did have time to check a few e-mails when I got home this afternoon, and one of those particularly sparked my interest.
A rumor is flying that within just a few months, Barack Obama is about to announce a comprehensive peace plan for the Middle East – not a statement of a few principles, like what he came up with in Cairo, but an honest-to-God, detailed plan setting forth the nuts and bolts of a two-state solution. If this rumor is true, this will be the equivalent of a poker player going “All-In.” If the participants in the region reject the plan, our President may have blown his one and only chance to go down in world history as part of our species’ Diplomatic Pantheon. If, however, he’s successful, he wouldn’t just be part of the Pantheon – he’d be friggen Zeus!
I’m not sure this is the best time to wheel out a comprehensive plan. Judging from the reaction to the President’s Cairo speech, his standing in Israel might not be high enough to motivate the leaders in Jerusalem to make the necessary concessions. Then again, we desperately need peace in that region – for the sake of Israel’s good name as much as for the Palestinians’ welfare – and Barack Obama seems to have a genius for diplomacy. So maybe this is the time to remember his campaign slogan: “Yes We Can!” Yes We Can do the impossible. We Obama supporters helped a black man win Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida AND Ohio. And we lovers of peace can take to the streets and support Barack’s efforts in bringing together groups of people who have had sixty years to work out their struggle among themselves, and so far have failed miserably. Even many Israelis and Palestinians will tell you privately that they need American help to give peace a chance.
If Barack wants to wait a year or two before he goes All-In, I’ll calmly toast his prudence. But if Barack wants to take his shot, and follow that up by a full-court press on the part of Mitchell, the Clintons, and all the other American grey eminences who hunger for peace in the Holy Land … I’ll be the first person to support them wholeheartedly. Does that mean I will call on Israel and Palestine to rubber stamp everything Barack says? Of course not. The President fully knows that everyone must have a say here, and the negotiations will be time-consuming and ugly. That’s to be expected and accepted. What we cannot accept is failure.
So, my friends, the next time you go to your local church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship and hear yourself mouthing a prayer for peace, think about our President’s choice. Think about how fateful it is – not merely WHAT he proposes, but WHEN he proposes it. And get yourself ready right now to throw your efforts behind the President – if not in every detail of his proposal then at least in his conclusion that the time for a Middle-East peace is now and all sides need to get in the mindset of compromise. As with the health care debate, there will be plenty of special interests ready to attack the proposal. We need ALL friends of peace to muffle those interests. In short, we need all friends of peace – including YOU -- to organize and fight for a diplomatic compromise as passionately as our last Administration fought for war. There are plenty of peace groups around. Find one (or two) and get busy.