Jeffrey Goldberg’s blog is where I first found the YouTube clip of the Davos meeting which ended with Turkey’s prime minister storming off the stage (the Arab League’s secretary general seemed about to follow him, before his UN counterpart appeared to restrain him). And for what? What was so untenable?
Was it simply that Shimon Peres, after listening to nearly 40 minutes of criticism that more than once crossed over into abuse and outright lies, responded? Because he told Israel’s side of the story? Because he countered the attacks and vilification of Israel with facts and truths? Because members of the silent audience (perhaps actually listening to what Peres was saying, for once?) applauded when the Israeli finished speaking? Because even the UN secretary general’s facial expression seemed to suggest that Peres might be getting through?
I became increasingly upset and even teary watching this. I watched the whole thing–I did not simply begin 39 minutes in so I could hear Peres exclusively, as Goldberg’s helpful tip would have allowed me. I listened to the whole thing, and I thought Peres was brilliant.
To have the Turkish prime minister saluted as a hero, as I’ve seen not only in reports (like this one) of his return to his country, but also in comments in multiple online locations, makes me despair. If people cannot see the integrity and honesty of Peres’s words–if they cannot see how everyone else, symbolically represented by the three other “statesmen” on the stage–routinely commits sins of distortion, dishonesty, and/or double standards in dealing with Israel, it may never matter how hard Peres (or his country) may continue to seek both security and peace. With “partners” or “brokers” like these to “fix” the situation, who needs enemies?