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Optimism in Davos, Erdogan notwithstanding

February 1, 2009 1 comment

The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof comments from Davos on undercurrents of hope. Kristof says the international row caused by Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s storming off stage during a panel with Israeli President Shimon Peres isn’t the real story.

Kristof says there is “a whisper of hope” that a serious effort led by President Obama could radically transform the Middle East peace process.

Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League, declared, “There are prospects of the U.S. returning to the role of honest broker, which we missed.” That view seems widespread here, and is shared by many in Israel as well.

“You have a complete breakdown of trust: ‘It’s my toy!’ ‘No, it’s my toy!’ ” said David Rosen, the former chief rabbi of Ireland, now based in Jerusalem as head of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee. “We need someone who can move the parties beyond their own pain and vulnerability.”

Kristof says to fulfill this promise, the U.S. should focus on reducing misery in the occupied territories and securing peace between Syria and Israel.

For people of my generation, it’s perhaps hard to imagine a U.S. administration that could be a relatively impartial broker in the peace process. Most of us only came to any sort of real political consciousness during the Bush administration. Regardless of one’s political persuasion or opinions with regard to Israel and Palestine, there is no questioning that the Bush team did not hold the same potential to unite all parties in the process as the Obama team apparently can.

For us, the original Camp David seems distant and even impossible; and the failed 2000 Camp David attempt seems like a high point. If the optimism Kristof sees is correct, it will be a radical change for our worldview–and indeed for the world.

–David Graham, Trinity ’09 and editor

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