Editorial: Sounding the Horn of Peace: The Shofar of Shalom


As Jews welcome the Jewish New Year of 5771, the news that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has stepped up to the plate to take the principal role in the renewed direct Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, has given High Hopes to the High Holidays.

In one of the few optimistic commentaries about the resumed peace talks that was at least partially hopeful, Mark Landler in The New York Times recently noted that while Clinton had stayed on the sidelines while George Mitchell, the Obama administration’s special envoy to the Middle East had the lead role, “she now has no choice but to plunge into the rough and tumble of peacemaking.”

Assessing the enormity of Clinton’s new challenge in the thick of Middle East diplomacy, Landler added, “It may prove the greatest test yet for Mrs. Clinton, one that could cement her legacy as a diplomat if she solves the riddle that foiled even her husband, former President Bill Clinton. But it could also pose serious risks to any political ambitions she may harbor.”

No risk, no reward, in other words. So Secretary Clinton played a major role in working directly with President Barack Obama to orchestrate the introductory talks at the White House and State Department last week. The initial meetings among Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the U.S. were reportedly constructive and cordial. They led to a commitment by the two principals to meet every two weeks to move the dialogue forward. That in and of itself is progress.


It is significant that the favorable momentum achieved in the formal opening of the talks was not derailed by the horrific Hamas terrorist attacks on the eve of the meeting, in which four Israelis, including a pregnant woman, were brutally gunned down in a drive-by shooting.

Obama, Netanyahu and Abbas all condemned the Hamas attacks and vowed that they would not deter them from going forward.

There is further indication that the terrorist powers-that-be are scared of real success in these talks. Hezbollah leader Seyyed Nasrallah not only praised the Hamas attacks but indicated there could be no peaceful solution in which Jerusalem was part of a country named “Israel.”

Really? He’s worried about the name of the nation at this point? Sounds like small potatoes, but this public pronouncement actually is highly informative. What it strongly suggests is that Nasrallah and other terrorists are truly concerned that the peace talks might succeed, might actually achieve resolution on the key issues of borders, Jerusalem, refugees and security for Israel. Falling back to the name “issue” is an effort to insert yet another impossible condition in the peace process.

The last thing Hamas and Hezbollah want is an enforced agreement and peace. Why? Because when the focus turns from hatred to constructive engagement and nation-building, they are not only clueless but impotent. They have no tools, no leadership skills, no political will that can lead to peaceful prosperity. They are grounded in hate, and have no concept of how to govern when the responsibility compass points inward.

Will the end of the 10-month moratorium on new settlements in the West Bank give Abbas an out? We shall see, but Netanyahu has invested so much political capital at this point one might surmise he has some aces up his sleeve even on that contentious issue. Speculation to say the least, but it’s doubtful that the parties would have come to the table (even at the U.S.’s urging) if they had known the talks would dissipate four weeks later.

As First Lady, as a U.S. Senator representing New York and during her grueling contest with Obama during the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary, Hillary Rodham Clinton proved over and over again that she has the “right stuff” to press forward toward achievable goals, and that she can “stand the heat” in the “kitchen” of politics and diplomacy. Even after the often contentious political campaign, Mrs. Clinton demonstrated her patriotism by accepting the appointment as Obama’s Secretary of State. Recently, she achieved a historic agreement on normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia, and she has demonstrated strong skills in navigating the shark-infested waters of international diplomacy in a world torn by terrorism and war.

We sincerely hope that Mrs. Clinton’s considerable intellect and negotiating skills, along with those of her team, will be successful in achieving the peace in the Middle East, which has been sought by every U.S. President since Harry S. Truman and every Israeli Prime Minister since David Ben-Gurion. If that happens, the sounding of the shofar will take on even more meaning as it welcomes a real chance for peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.