So much has been said and done this week regarding the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks (if you watched the Ravens-Steelers game, you’d have seen that commercial in which the Budweiser Clydesdales poignantly bow their heads in the direction of Ground Zero) that lost in the shuffle has been that today is the 18th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords.
Maybe that’s because it’s something most of us – on both sides of the aisle—would probably like to forget.
For me, it’s something I’ll never forget. I was sitting in a crowded, darkened office at the Associated, huddled with federation employees around a big TV set. Of course, there was nervous chatter and jokes. No one knew what to expect. Were we watching history? Another false start? Bill Clinton’s greatest folly? (Of course, that came later with “Lewinskygate.”)
When Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands, largely with the prodding of the genial, avuncular Clinton, a roar swelled up from the ranks of the Associated employees sitting on the floor. None of us could believe what we were seeing. I suspect many of us dared that day to dream, to cast off our cynicism, to believe that peace was actually within reach. After all, if Rabin and Arafat could shake hands …
Of course, like a lot of things in life, it wasn’t meant to be. In some ways, things have certainly gotten worse. Now, we face a situation in which the Palestinians will soon bring to the world body a unilateral proposal for statehood, one without any direct negotiations or accord with the Israelis or approval from the Americans.
And what we can expect from all of this – maybe even a war, God forbid – seems as hazy and unclear as in that darkened room at the Associated in September of ’93.
When dealing with people and human nature in general, I’ve often told family members and friends, “Expect the least from people and you might get more than you ever expected.” (I’m sure I stole that from someone.) We all keep expecting the Middle East scenario to turn itself around, that everyone will reach an accommodation just out of sheer exhaustion from fighting and arguing for so long.
At this point, I strongly suspect that the world – even American Jewry in general—is sick and tired of the Israelis and Palestinians and their never-ending saga, their long-playing comedy of errors. That’s probably why other matters have kept the statehood issue, for the most part, in the back pages, near the horoscope section. Who wants to deal with this one?
Let’s just hope things don’t soon escalate to the point where the subject once again has the world’s full and undivided attention.