Twenty-five years ago, in late 1989, I enrolled in an ulpan or Hebrew immersion program at Mishmar Haemek, a kibbutz in the Jezreel Valley. When I met the kibbutzniks as well as the other students in the ulpan, many of them would ask me two questions.
I realized that the goals of the Labor Movement in America are remarkably similar to those of the late Prime Minister -- and that both believe that positive social reforms, economic quality and education are the only way to benefit society.
As we pass the 18th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israel is again engaged in peace talks with the Palestinians and there are signs that the sleeping dragon of incitement is stirring in its cave once again.
Oslo changed everything. And, in fact, the talks the U.S. is currently mediating today, which offer hope of resolving the elements that the Oslo Accords left open, are the direct legacy of the process Rabin started.
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.
The "Explainer in Chief" believes that successful leadership starts by asking the right questions. But great leaders are good listeners too. And while they forge new paths, they also build consensus and "creative networks of cooperation."
"Israeli artists who perform abroad invariably carry a message of peace and of culture, and arts, above all...It's the responsibility of every human being who wants to live in peace to work for it. You can't expect people to do the work for you. ... I'm a singer, so I sing for peace."
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.
In 1965, Singapore's first prime-minister Lee Kuan Yew asked Israel to design, set up, and supervise its military machine. Israel did precisely that. How successfully? Just this month, Israel was ranked the world's most militarized nation -- and Singapore the second-most.
Israel has quickly become an entertainment powerhouse that has given us In Treatment and the original Homeland, along with the two marvelous films that made the NYFF. We eagerly await the latest from Ari Folman. His Waltz with Bashir was also distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.
Yale University sustained such a college for more than 300 years and, through it, the American republic, and for much of the time the republic led the world, but now Yale's captains have bound it contractually to an authoritarian corporate city state.
How many world leaders can say that they have killed terrorist masterminds at point-blank range on a mission inside an enemy's capital? Barak has. How many world leaders have stormed a hijacked aircraft to rescue terrified passengers? Netanyahu has.
Although the two-state solution was far from perfect, at least it gave answers to these basic questions of governance and civic rights. But Israel's citizens and its government have decided. It will not be.
The hysteria on display in Washington over UNESCO's vote to include Palestine as a member of the world body, though largely a manufactured effort, was, nevertheless, irritating and a sad commentary on the dysfunctional nature of U.S. politics.