July 19, 2019

The Legacy of Oslo

“It’s 27 years since the Oslo Accords, but their memory lives on. Most famously in recent years, their 25th anniversary was celebrated with an imperious drama at Lincoln Center riveted on the summit’s original movers: Terje Rod-Larsen, a Norwegian diplomat, and his wife, Mona Juul, later state secretary in that country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Historically, Rod-Larsen’s and Juul’s Oslo venture was a failure, the first of many such diplomatic zeroes, but theatrically Oslo has been a hit—so it fits that Marc Platt, the producer of La La Land (no kidding!) will bring Oslo to the big screen, carrying on the forced narrative of brave peaceniks out to heal a broken land.

All this artistic hype isn’t accidental: A quarter century back, against all the available evidence, the Oslo “achievement” was already being hyped by European diplomats, by adjuncts to then Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, by the cortege of Yasser Arafat, and by the confection of rationalist policymakers and commentators that elite American universities had just started to produce. In hindsight, their haughty insistence on the ideal over the reality was an early sign of things to come.

That insistence was one I never bought into. I was invited to the Clinton White House for the Oslo fest in 1993 but I did not go. Thirty years of seeing Arafat in action—the trampling on civilians’ rights in Lebanon, the lobbing of rockets into Israel, the reliance on terror, the chokehold over decaying Palestinian institutions—had persuaded me that he was the wrong person, actually an impossible person, for peace. I began to ponder whether any of the top Palestinian leadership were candidates for a settlement with the Jewish state. Even during the heightened festivities I realized that some of the Israeli principals secretly agreed with me: Hard-headed Yitzhak Rabin saw the event for what it was and left after the ceremony; saintly Peres believed the hype and stayed around after for the photo shoots. And yet for years even after the failure of Oslo and of the 2000 summit at Camp David, D.C. notables and even some prominent Zionists had photos with Arafat displayed on their credenzas. “

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"The likely successor to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Boris Johnson, has plans to subsume the government department overseeing development aid into the foreign office, effectively eliminating it. That will destroy a post-Brexit United..."

"Gerard Baker, editor-at-large at the Wall Street Journal (no reflexively anti-Trump publication) recently wrote a piece decrying Donald Trump and his foreign policy as a fount of erratic unpredictability. This essay will give the counter view...."

"On Wednesday, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announced that she will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming weeks. Omar will be accompanied by Rep. Rashida Tlaib. The two freshman congresswomen have become a focal point of..."

"Netflix may have lost US subscribers for the first time since it began making its own shows, but that didn't stop the streaming giant from dropping new figures about how many people are sucked into its Adam Sandler vortex. (Spoiler: More than..."

"A few years ago, Amy Balliett, CEO of a Seattle-based design and marketing firm, noticed that as the work week slogged on, her employees’ energy and productivity wilted. “That would slump to such an extent that the same task on Monday would..."

"Over the last few days the #faceappchallenge has taken over social media. This “challenge” involves downloading a selfie-editing tool called FaceApp and using one of its filters to digitally age your face. You then post the photo of your wizened..."

"Although there are plenty of irrational aspects to life in modern America, few rival the odd fixation on lawns. Fertilizing, mowing, watering — these are all-American activities that, on their face, seem reasonable enough. But to spend hundreds..."

"Can a book change the way we think? I don’t mean that in the sense of a reader’s opinion or ideology shifting—of course the right literary work can do that. But can a book rewire the brain itself, literally changing the way one particular mind..."

"It’s our job to let kids know we see and hear them, but we’re not necessarily going to solve siblings’ conflicts for them (or else they never get the practice). When squabbles start, imagine you’re a sportscaster and describe what you see in..."

"Magali Trejo-Martinez, a 22-year-old living in Salem, Oregon, recently went on a date that was rather uninspiring. “I had dinner, had a couple margaritas, and then went home,” is how she recapped the evening. This outcome wasn’t entirely..."

"The first lunar landing was many things — a D-Day-like feat of planning and logistics, a testament to the power of man's will, an ostensible propaganda coup for NATO. It was also, I think, one of the most misunderstood events in the history of..."

"THE FIRST TIME Bernie Sanders ran for president, he didn’t talk much about being Jewish. In fact, he didn’t talk much about himself at all. His 2016 primary campaign, like his whole political career, was relentlessly focused on one topic: income..."