Obama, Netanyahu (L) and Abbas
Photo: AP
Yoaz Hendel

Talks a sign of fatigue

Op-ed: Obama’s world tired of wars, suffers chronic fatigue syndrome on national level

At times, the power of inertia overcomes common sense. Like whales that swim ashore, statesmen find themselves continuing with processes that have no chance.


And to the matter at hand: Fans of the genre will argue that the upcoming round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians presents yet another opportunity; another drop en route to the ocean of peace. Regrettably, these talks mostly reflect the fatigue of the parties involved.


If in the past peace talks were perceived as a bold step undertaken by rivals, today these talks are mostly about intellectual impasse. We keep on taking the same dead-end road we’ve taken before, without investing a hint of creative thinking about other possibilities.


It appears that it’s clear to all sides that there is no chance of producing significant change through forced talks; it’s hard to believe that Obama himself is unaware of this. He learned, on his own flesh, that reality has a tendency to overcome polished speeches, and that dreams can be broken. So why is he doing it to himself yet again?


The reason for this is bigger than him. It has to do with the roots of the liberal camp where Obama grew. His world is tired of wars, not as a physical condition, but rather, as a way of thinking. It’s a sort of chronic fatigue syndrome on the national level.


Obama did not invent this phenomenon; it emerged among intellectuals out of the ashes of World War II. However, statesmen like him, as opposed to academicians on the outside, have a rather small toolkit at their disposal: The screwdriver of peace, and the hammer of war. Take away war, and only one tool remains – break that tool, and you’re left with nothing.


Settlers must do some thinking, too

The educated Obama, the liberal favorite son of the post-war people, arrived at the White House with trouble understanding this gap; he arrived in the Middle East in a similar fashion: A liberal cowboy, armed with a peace screwdriver in his right holster, and another peace screwdriver in his left holster.


In line with the spirit of the camp Obama represents, he left the hammer at home. For those who wish to see the outcome of his approach, the examples are there like bodies strewn across a political field, ranging from Iran to North Korea.


Yet in our local conflict we should have seen a success story in this context. After all, here he was dealing with Israelis and Palestinians – a hardcore struggle indeed, yet also a conflict where there is no need for the war hammer. At little peace work with the screwdriver and all of us would be affixed to the right place.


Yet again, reality thwarted him, and the toolbox emptied out. Now, members of the liberal peace camp are tired of peace too, and the only solution is to go back to the same old ritual, irrespective of the outcome.


And a few sentences for the benefit of fans of the Judea and Samaria settlement enterprise: Futility on one side does not necessitate lack of thought on the other side.


En route to the unpromising end of the current round of talks, we can expect immense pressure to be exerted on the Israeli government to go back to dealing with construction freezes, withdrawals, and other similar success stories. Turning a blind eye won’t help here.


The settlers too must not find themselves fatigued, while holding on to an empty toolbox. The upcoming talks require some thought here too - some thought about areas where we must keep building tomorrow morning, because there is no other choice, and about areas where the tired peace momentum is expected to continue settling.



פרסום ראשון: 08.25.10, 18:11
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