Shalom, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Salaam, President Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Abbas, we have never met. Mr. Netanyahu, we met, just once, years ago in the Fox News sky box at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. I am sure you don’t remember.
You were not yet prime minister. You were in Atlanta as a guest of Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp. and Fox. I was there as a technical assistant working on electrical connections for what was to become Fox’s first telecast of a national political convention. You were talking with Murdoch, Barry Diller and a couple of other folks who lived way above my pay grade.
You did a curious thing. You came over and talked to me. You graciously asked about my job, my family, where I was from. I looked into your eyes and saw a good man. You initiated something, which hardly ever happens between people from our diverse circumstances —a conversation. After talking for a few minutes, Murdoch called you back to the other gathering and I went back to my work.
I never forgot that
encounter and talking with a fellow human being who was curious about another person with whom he was temporarily sharing space.
I am not a silent observer. For many years I have actively protested my own country’s involvement in wars in the Middle East. But whatever opinions I hold about the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, I have kept to myself. I’m not so arrogant as to believe that I should attempt to dictate to a sovereign people how to conduct their political affairs. A nation’s destiny should be determined by its own people, especially as it forges a relationship with its neighbors. However, in our shrinking world, we have all become neighbors.
Your two peoples share space, intimate space. Israel exists and should thrive. That fact is indisputable. Anyone who believes otherwise is a fool or worse. We should not allow fools to set the political agenda. But just as indisputable is the fact that the Palestinian people should live in a country where they have political representation and voice in the manifestation of their own destiny. Both peoples, indeed, the world’s people, will never find lasting peace until both these realities are inscribed in stone and respected by all.
It took courage and vision for the two of you to come together and sit down in the same room. I urge you to gather courage to take the next step. Look into each other’s eyes and find your common humanity. If that is the basis of your negotiations, issues of land, Jerusalem, right of return and borders will become just details to be worked out.
We, Jews, Christians and Muslims, are the spiritual descendants of Abraham. Isn’t it time we came together to say — as did those true heroes of the past generations — from this day forward to forever there will be no war? We will strive in our hearts and with our hands to make peace.