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October 4, 2015 / 21 Tishri, 5776
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Peace and the President’s Conference: Can a Realist Believe in Miracles?

President Peres

Photo Credit: Mark Neyman/GPO/Flash90

When I was a little girl I dreamed of becoming Miss America. I wanted to wear the crown, the sash and stand on the huge stage in a sparkling floor-length gown talking about world peace. As I got older, I realized that the likelihood of that dream was slim, but still took pride in carrying around the regal air of positivity. I looked on the bright side and did what I could to make sure the grass on my side of the fence stayed a bright Kelly green. As I walked around the President’s Conference today though, I couldn’t help but feel jaded. Despite President Peres’s plea last night to stay strong about peace, people today were finally saying out loud that it just is an impossibility. After assessing the situation with greater depth each day, I realize that I have a better chance of becoming Miss America than the Middle East does at achieving the serenity it needs.

Sure you can call it cynical, but it’s the truth being expressed by more and more people. We had the chance to speak with Irwin Cotler today, a Member of Parliament for Mount Royal from Canada, who believes in a two state solution. He calls that term short-hand though. He believes that a two state solution is one that involves two states for two peoples. The Israeli government has to recognize the Palestinian state for the Palestinian people and the Jewish people need to be legitimized too. While this could potentially solve problems, it is clear that the chances of this happening are nearly impossible.

In a conference emblazoned with messages about the need for optimism, it could be a mood killer to be the pessimist in the room. But it’s a debate that’s making it into sessions focused on more than the political. “The difference between pessimists and optimists is that they are born the same way and die the same way but live differently,” according to Mr. Maurice Levy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe in France. Levy made the audience laugh with that response during the What’s New in New Media plenary, after he was teased by moderator Dr. Yossi Vardi for being so positive. He said that what we are today has nothing to do with what we will be tomorrow, and has high hopes for the future of technology.

Mr. Stephane Richard, Chairman and CEO of France Telecom Group also shared some upbeat news. His venture fund made an investment in Israel for the first time, and he spoke at the conference as a part of his first trip to the country. Those firsts are echoed in the entire notion of new media’s role in the future. The ability to completely transform everything is what new media is about, according to John Chambers, Chairman and CEO, Cisco Systems Inc. Chambers suggested thinking like a teenager, that young people know where the future of this new media lies better than anyone. Although uplifting, the session didn’t feature any groundbreaking information, only reiterated the importance and ubiquity of connectivity. But it will take way more than technological advancements to put a positive dent in the Middle East crisis. While connecting Arabs and Israelis through smart phones is obviously far more favorable than warfare, the thought is just too far off the radar screen to even fathom.

Despite my negative attitude about dove-like peace descending on Israel anytime in the near future, I will say that Israel’s strength is clear and its defense force is the best chance we have at maintaining stability in its citizens’ everyday life. Because of the military, Israelis and tourists alike can walk around and feel safe. Indeed, it’s unfortunate that an 18 year old boy or girl should have to serve in an army, but it’s a harsh reality that Israelis both accept and are passionate about. That spirit is what will keep Israel not only existing, but flourishing. I think David Ben-Gurion said it best with the quote, “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.” With what Israel has been through, it’s a miracle that the nation is still standing today. Miss America or not, let’s keep that positivity coming.

About the Author: Alex interns at JewishPress.com. She's a graduate of Binghamton University in New York.

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One Response to “Peace and the President’s Conference: Can a Realist Believe in Miracles?”

  1. Larry Snider says:

    Wearing the dress on the stage may not be possible for you Alex. But making a contribution to peace and peoples understanding of what it meas is not only possible it appers to be your destiny.

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