Obama made a lackluster speech on a subject on which it’s really impossible to make a good speech in America. The discussion of the peace process amongst Americans has the intellectual zest of the birther movement. It reminds me of the sheep in Animal farm. While I agree with a lot of it, I find that the arguments are rarely grounded in a historical perspective of the conflict. Bottom line: Americans (or at least people I talk to) are severely under-informed (not mis-informed) about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Here’s a nice summary of the issues that tries to remain objective.
Aside: Let me say that I disagree with several people that I deeply respect on the fact that you have to be intimately involved in a conflict in order to understand it, or to deliberate the best course of action for resolving it. I would argue that being a part of the conflict clouds your thinking as much as it clarifies. I think this applies to conflicts small and big.
The current status of negotiations is at a standstill. It really seems hopeless, and Obama certainly didn’t help with a speech that provided no new reinvigorating ideas or momentum in negotiations. Both sides blame the other for putting the peace process in reverse. At the core of the tension is the belief that the other side seeks complete annihilation. The assumption is that if we agree to something now, the other side will just use that to move the goal posts. Of course, if you don’t trust that a resolution in a negotiation process will be final, there cannot be any resolution.
In the mean time, people are dying, and millions live in fear.