Wow…where did that title come from?
Okay, let’s go with it.
President’s Conference – Tomorrow 2013 – Jerusalem…
Amazing speakers, amazing accommodations – at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center – 5,000 people, 2,900 flew in (or were paid to come in), 450 journalists – wow, what a gathering. I’m honored to have been asked. I feel a bit of a fraud. I’m not a journalist. I mean, I am, a bit – but mostly, I’m a blogger and mostly I’m a writer, and mostly, I’m just an Israeli.
I listen through ears that have heard explosions. I see through eyes that have witnessed the aftermath of terrorist attacks. Speaker after speaker has the nerve to come here and tell us we are strong and therefore we can make sacrifices for peace. Really, I want to ask them – will it be your son, your daughter that is sacrificed? Will you pay to rebuild the homes destroyed by rockets?
I have longed for peace in a way that Sharon Stone and so many of the speakers on the podium cannot imagine. It was never her son on the border; it wasn’t her awake in the middle of the night checking the news to see what exploded and correlating that to where her loved ones were.
Welli Dai, CEO of Marvell, talked of the similarities between being a Chinese mother and a Jewish mother. Robert LoCascio, Founder and CEO of LivePerson spoke of the differences between an Italian mother and a Jewish mother. Sharon Stone speaks of being a mother to three children she has adopted and the irony that God places before us is amazing because it was at that time that Chaim sent me a text message asking me if I was here. Chaim was in the same room, a reminder from God that you can love a child not born to you and a message that for all that I did not like Sharon Stone’s preaching, it wasn’t fair to call her less of a mother because the children of whom she spoke were not born to her naturally.
So as with too many of the others, Sharon Stone came to tell us that peace rests in our hands. That we have to push and take risks.I find myself more annoyed by her than by most of the speakers. I’m not sure why. Personally, I found her references to “comfort zones” demeaning and condescending. First, because she assumed we live in a comfort zone and second because, having incorrectly decided that is where Israelis live, she urged us to get out of our comfort zone.
In her misguided view of Israel, she thinks peace is something that we can make alone. Peace is something that needs a partner – to put it in terms that Sharon Stone may understand – like dancing, perhaps even like sex. If you want to do it right…well, never mind, you get the idea (if only Sharon Stone would).
Sharon Stone felt it important to tell us that she views herself, at 55, as “hot and sexy.” I’m glad for her but what that has to do with Israel, I’m not sure. More importantly, what does a career creating fiction have to do with our lives here? Why does she feel capable of coming here and telling us what we have to risk?
I enjoyed hearing about her life and her work. I like the fact that she is an advocate for peace and women’s rights. I guess what bothered me is her assumption that we here in Israel are any less pro-Israel or any less informed.
Trust us, Sharon – if there was a way we could have made peace in the last 65 years, we would have done it. We’ve tried withdrawing from land – we did that in 1956, we did that for the Egyptians and the Jordanians. We pulled out of Gaza and gave back a piece of Lebanon that the UN even thought we could keep. Trust us, Sharon – the lack of peace is something we feel every day but your concept that we move out of the comfort zone is insulting.
We aren’t in the comfort zone – those who ran from six missiles a few days ago feel no comfort when they go to sleep. Those of us who have had sons and daughters serve feel little comfort for the entire time they are in uniform.
There is a part of me that wants to be a bit nasty – I did a bit of google and found that Sharon Stone is involved with a 27-year old man. She’s free to live her life as she wishes but as I approach my 30th wedding anniversary with the same man I have known and loved since I was 18 years old, I find the analogy grows more evident.
Sharon Stone has every right to live as she wishes. It is her life – as it is ours. She should live and be well, as the saying goes, and not come here to tell us how to make peace (or how to build a lasting marriage). She has no experience with either – what peace has she built? What marriage has she maintained – what relationship, for that matter?
This is the danger of the President’s Conference – speakers come here believing they have the right, by virtue of their fame, to preach. There are few more capable of speaking of the Muslim world than Ayaan Hirsi Li; there are few more capable of speaking on the economy than Stanley Fischer. Though I disagree with Tony Blair, at least he has had direct experience in the world of politics. Dr. Ruth came to talk of interpersonal relationships but other than showing her love of Israel, she did not attempt to tell us how to live our lives in the political arena – though she did encourage us to hold hands more often (and do some other things that I won’t mention here).
Sharon Stone came here to show us she is beautiful – and she is. To show us she is vibrant, alive and still very capable of flirting. She had half the men in love with her and a fair amount hoping that her dress would slip just a bit higher (and lower).
But the evil of beauty is that it can be abused. Sharon Stone is a very intelligent woman. Perhaps she is qualified to speak on human relations; perhaps she can speak on motherhood. But on building a nation, providing for its people, negotiating a long-term, real peace agreement with neighbors that still, to this day, would rather destroy us than sit at the table with us? Sorry…no.
Visit A Soldier’s Mother.Paula Stern
About the Author: Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running since 2007. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write.The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.
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