Sunday, August 28, 2011
Could Obama Be Ready to Jumpstart the Peace Process?
There has been much discussion of Obama's vacation reading list. Tevi Troy at the National Review criticizes the list because it is top heavy with novels. According to Troy, reading novels shows that you are out of touch with reality. He also pans novels because you can not learn anything from them. Don't tell that to my Wall Street friends, whose lives were changed forever by reading one of Ayn Rand's novels. Troy seems to have forgotten how Upton Sinclair's novel, "The Jungle" reformed the meat packing industry.
Snobbish bibliophiles sniffed their noses at the detective novels on the list. Robin Black on Salon complained that the President does not read enough books by women authors. Eric Herschthal, a writer at Jewish Week, promulgates the false notion of Jewish American cultural superiority over Israelis by suggesting that Obama shouldn't have chosen a book by Israeli author David Grossman but instead one by a Jewish American writer.
The President most likely picked this seminal Israeli novel about loss to read because he wants to better understand Israeli culture while reading beautiful literature. Grossman, who is considered one of Israel's greatest writers, has been awarded the Bialik Prize for Literature, the Emet Prize, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, and many others. The Israeli public voted him one of the 200 Greatest Israelis of all time in a newspaper tabloid poll. Grossman, who is a hero of Israel's left wing, was recently beaten by the police during anti-settlement protests. Humble as ever, he shrugged off the beating by saying that the police probably did not recognize him.
I had a chance to talk with Grossman, who is a reservist in the Israeli army despite his celebrity status. Grossman was "thrilled" that Obama took his book, "To the End of the Land" to Martha's Vineyard. The book, which is Grossman's first overtly political novel, is an emotionally wrenching portrait of an Israeli mother mourning the loss of her son killed during one of Israel's interminable wars. He wrote it shortly after the death of his son Uri in the Second Lebanon War.
"After reading my book, I think that Obama will better understand Israelis," said Grossman. "I think that it could jumpstart the peace process."
He hopes "Obama puts Netanyahu and Abbas in a room and knocks their heads together." "Everyone knows what the terms of a deal should look like - a reconfiguration of the 1967 borders, Palestinians get a demilitarized state, but give up the right of return," said Grossman.
These terms by a proud Israeli sounds suspiciously similar to the terms that Obama outlined in his MidEast policy speech in May, which was deemed by critics of Obama and Israeli activists anti-Israeli. Maybe the Jews and Politico owe Obama apology for their rhetoric especially since Prime Minister Netanyahu offered the same terms if Palestinians would not introduce a resolution to the United Nations asking for an independent Palestinian State.