The pride, the self-confidence of a nation

By Alan Simons

OCTOBER 14, 2007 – Whenever there’s talk of a Mid-East Conference where politicians, think tanks, academicians, former diplomats and a plethora of do-gooders can’t wait to give us their own slant of how it all should happen, I always seem to be drawn back to a 2002 interview given by Avraham Burg, the former speaker of the Israeli Knesset and past Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organization.

Of course, since 2002, the cast of players has changed and so has the scenery, at least in some respect. But the gist of what Burg passionately spoke about is still relevant today. I’ll talk about this shortly.

For now though, let’s look at what many groups of senior Americans – retired lawmakers and officials, including two former national security advisors, Zbiegniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft are suggesting.

Their suggestion is for the inclusion of Hamas in the November summit. “Saying no to Hamas without planning for the consequences is a likely ticket to new problems.” They call for a dialogue with Hamas, and also with Syria. “This would not be easy, and talks could start with a ceasefire.” They also say Hamas includes realistic people, who do not want a permanent state of war and conflict.”

Of course not, Hamas with their Iranian brothers, want to get the job over with as quickly as possible.

Without Hamas at this summit, the general consensus is that nothing will be achieved.

To be honest, I don’t care a dam if Hamas attends the conference, meeting, summit or whatever it will finally be called by the Bush administration. My primary concern is that for many of us, this American administration unfortunately continues to depict themselves worldwide as being of a ‘culture of war’, and not ‘a culture of peace’. And that’s unfortunate, especially if you’re attempting to chair a peace summit.

Having said that, we as outsiders are so easy to give overt advice and suggestions as to what the solutions should be. We act as if we are Israelis or Palestinians living in that part of the world. And we are neither. Yes, many of us have a stake, a personal stake, based upon recent history as to the outcome. So for now, I’m listening to both sides, the bigots and the open-minded. There are enough of them around for many future summits.

Avrahum Burg in his interview talks about the pride, the self-confidence of a nation. He says:

I will tell you what gives me such self-confidence as a nation. There are two things here. There is a model in political science here that teaches us that the immigrants that emigrated from democratic countries have created democratic countries, and immigrants from tyrannical or totalitarian countries have formed totalitarian governments. For example the people who emigrated from Great Britain created Canada, the United States, New Zealand, or Australia. And people who emigrated from Portugal and Catholic and totalitarian Spain created totalitarian regimes in South America. I admit there are exceptions, but it is a rule.

I wonder what this self-confidence is all about that Hamas brings to the peace table.


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