11/28/2013 08:53 am ET Updated Jan 28, 2014


It feels unusually fortuitous that Thanksgiving and the beginning of Hanukkah overlap this year.

As Jewish practitioners the world over illumine candles of remembrance -- symbolizing a triumph of light and hope over terrors and darkness -- and American families and friends across the continent break bread together, those of all religious persuasions, or none, can celebrate America's recent accomplishments in the Middle East.

I am thankful that diplomacy is beginning to replace reflexive violence. Our own 2013 day of "thanks-giving" began on September 27. Demonstrating courage as well as common sense, Barack Obama spoke directly with Hassan Rouhani. Two presidents liberating both America and Iran from decades of poisonous silence and proxy violence.

Simultaneously, American diplomacy under President Obama trumped our addiction to militarism as the UN adopted the Syria chemical resolution. Day-by-day, Syria is being forced back behind the chemical weapon red line it almost certainly had crossed. It is a very small step, but it is at last a step in the right direction: away from armageddon in the "cradle of civilization." The agreement with Iran is another small step in the same laudable direction.

Unsurprisingly, end-timers in the Republican party object. Israel's right-wing government is predictably outraged, though it is important to observe that the Israeli security establishment appears to regard the deal as probably the best available. Saudi Arabia is deeply offended that America isn't rushing to fight an Iranian war on the Saudis' behalf.

It is not altogether impolitic to suggest that an agreement which so annoys arch-enemies Israel and Saudi Arabia might have found a golden mean. The Middle East remains a nasty place but the course has been reset to a more positive direction.

Senate Republicans have demonstrated an intractable (and acknowledged) opposition to anything President Obama does, no matter how beneficial to the American people. Over Thanksgiving dinner we will be hoping that Senate Democrats do there homework, think deeply about the options and then heartily support the President's diplomatic initiatives.

We can generate peaceful solutions, ones in which justice takes her seat at the head of the table we all share.

Welcome back, diplomacy! Thanks, Mr. President.