In a meeting I had this week with a congressional candidate, I was reminded of the power of the myths that define conventional wisdom about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the challenge they pose for rational discourse.
Some readers made disparaging remarks about the Palestinian leader -- the kindest of which was to point out the obvious fact that "Arafat was no Mandela." While that statement was, of course, true, it missed the point.
In late February of 1990, just two weeks after being released from prison, Nelson Mandela met with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasir Arafat. Afterwards Mandela spoke publicly of his affinity with the Palestinian people and his support for their struggle.
The Egyptian military's reasoning behind the tunnel and border closures is simple: Hamas and other militants in the Gaza Strip are assisting supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in waging a campaign of terrorism against the state.
In the end, the flaws of Oslo proved fatal. Today, the number of Israeli settlers has tripled; the Palestinian economy remains dependent on Israeli good-will and international largess; and thousands have died, victims of acts of terror, military assaults and settler violence.
Why is it everyone always has something to say about the Nobel Peace Prize winner? It's because unlike science, "peace" is something we Americans can understand. Assuming we're talking about a piece of a Twinkie or something.
Israel has the right to defend its citizens against a continuous rain of missiles. But there is no purely military solution to this conflict. There is only a political one, which will require a strong, prosperous, democratic Palestinian state in the West Bank as a counter to the Gaza of Hamas.
I eventually came to like Yasser Arafat. In all my meetings with him, he never failed to listen, to give his own opinions without being strident or aggressive about them, to be polite, charming, even gracious.
Iran is not an exemplary country by any measure, and it is far from having a representative government. It has a dismal human rights record but it is preposterous to claim that it is the biggest threat not just to Israel and the United States but to the world.
With one factually wrong, decidedly insensitive, and patently biased comment, Mitt Romney did more to focus U.S. media attention on the Palestinian economy than any other development in the past two decades.