There is much to learn by listening to these wise and experienced speakers, and we all appreciate the time given by all those who participated in the conference, but more so, I was moved by the ‘schmooze’ time these men donated. People were accessible, friendly and willing to help, because after all, it’s about the future!
Despite President Peres’ pleas to continue the pursuit of peace, people are beginning to say out loud that it is implausible. After assessing the situation with greater depth, I realize that I have a better chance of becoming Miss America than the Middle East does at achieving peace. Still, David Ben-Gurion made a good point when he said: “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.” Miss America or not, let’s keep that positivity coming.
The Economic Outlook Panel, headlined by Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer, Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson, President of the Council of Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, and Financial Times Reporter Martin Wolf, expressed deep concern for the future of the eurozone.
The President's Conference does have something to offer, if you know where to look for it.
The most realistic and helpful comments on Iran came today from Gabi Ashkenazi. He says that the military option is and should be the last option and yet it must remain on the table because if other options are to succeed, the only way it can succeed is if the threat of military action remains.
Dagan and Ashkenazi made their comments on a panel at the 2012 Presidential Conference that included former Presidential adviser Dennis Ross. Dagan said in Egypt it matters not who votes but who counts the vote.
The orchestra played Lennon's "Imagine" and I was getting alerts about rockets from Gaza hitting Israel's civilian centers down south.
As the peace he helped engineer with Egypt is on the verge of complete collapse, Kissinger acknowledged that the Arabs must also offer concessions when it comes to peace with Israel.
Canadian MP Prof. Irwin Cotler: "“Israel is both a Jewish and democratic State with the added challenge of living in a hostile environment. The fundamental Jewish values of respect for the sanctity of human life should frame our discourse and policy when it comes to national issues, including Israel’s current African migration challenge.”
Ambassador Dennis Ross, famed dissident and women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi-Ali, and Literary Editor of The New Republic, Leon Wieseltier joined former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi offered their perspectives in the session titled ‘A Strategic Look at Tomorrow.’
Schmidt: "The smartphone revolution will be universal. There are only one billion people with smartphones and two billion with access to the Internet. The World Wide Web has yet to live up to its name. Technology does not produce miracles, but connectivity, even in modest amounts, changes lives."
People flocked to the auditorium for the second plenary of the evening - and with good reason. The line-up was stacked with notable names including President Shimon Peres, Dr. Henry Kissinger, and Former Prime Minister of the Great Britain, Tony Blair. Peres spoke of his belief that peace was possible and mentioned that he had met with President Abbas and was left with the impression that they also need and want peace.
Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, Russell Simmons, Google's Eric Schmidt, Cisco's John Chambers and other leaders in industry, government, education, science and entertainment to discuss major issues facing our world.
Who on those panels has any connection whatsoever to me, to my shul, to our children? What does any of those folks know about the explosion of Torah learning in Israel, about our packed houses of worship, about our proliferation of loan societies, about our irrepressible demographics?