by David Lettis
On Monday, July 21, as part of a two-week conference titled, “Promoting Peace Through Dialogue,” organized by Global Majority
, Jacob Rosen, a veteran Israeli diplomat and the current Israeli Ambassador to Jordan, addressed a group of international students studying mediation techniques. While Rosen’s presentation was included in the program to provide the class with the Israeli perspective on the Israeli/Arab conflict, the ambassador delivered a speech so riddled with errors, inconsistencies and political jargon, that the room full of academics was left considerably more confused about the situation than before. Ironically, the one useful theme from the talk was the message of creating an international community more knowledgeable on the topic.
In his rambling oratory, which essentially highlighted his own decorated career, he didn’t even attempt
to honestly answer questions from the audience, opting instead to shift focus from the carefully worded and challenging statements posed by the audience, to any topic that was off the subject.
As Rosen’s incredibly skillful ability of talking about nothing for lengthy periods of time turned earnest questions into a mockery of intellectual discussion, I found myself repeatedly tuning back in after inadvertently zoning out. At one point, when I managed to refocus my attention, I found the diplomat speaking about his wife’s wardrobe when the initial question touched on America’s role in future Israeli/Arab negotiations.
Clearly, the ambassador needed to be reminded that his single most important duty at this conference was to explain the foreign policies of his state. Moreover, his inability to accomplish this task satisfactorily directly influenced the respect, or lack thereof, given to his country by the participants in attendance.
How could Israel actually give this man such responsibility in the international arena? With men like the ambassador providing a voice and image to the Israeli nation, there is little wonder why Israel has failed in its efforts to create a lasting peace. By delivering a speech in which he failed to explain any of Israel’s foreign policies, Rosen sends a clear message that Israel is not interested in discussing controversial issues. Consequently, by employing people who are not willing to sincerely discuss the problems stymieing resolution, there is little reason to think Israel is serious about peace.
The ambassador’s speech hit an especially low-point when he was given the seemingly unexpected duty of explaining the reasoning for the security wall separating the West Bank from Israel.
“The security wall isn’t ideal,” he had the audacity to say.
“It is affecting a lot of Israelis too. People with nice properties and nice views now have to look at a concrete wall. Fortunately, while Israel spends a lot of money on the construction, it is easy to take down with bulldozers, just like the Berlin Wall.”
To add insult to injury, he concluded the point by saying the larger settlements will not be so easy to take down with bulldozers, leaving the Palestinians in the audience wondering why, then, it is so easy to take down Palestinian homes with bulldozers in Israel’s controversial policy of collective punishment. Little wonder should be left regarding the reasoning behind the latest attacks within Israel, which used the very machines that have become a symbol of Israeli occupation.
If in the future Israel decides it wants to seriously and aggressively pursue true diplomacy with an end goal of peaceful resolution, it must immediately replace ambassadors, such as Mr. Rosen, with people who are willing to explain Israeli policies without insulting people by dodging probing questions and controversial issues. Politicians who employ cheap political rhetoric do not create peace.
Peace, as a means to creating a better world for its inhabitants, is only created when all the sides involved openly discuss possibilities for a better future while treating their counterparts as equals.
Peace is anything but easy, and from the two hours I had to listen to Ambassador Rosen speak, I guarantee that he is not the man to broker such relations among parties to the conflict. Actually, I am in no way surprised that he is stationed in Jordan, a nation on official-political good terms with Israel. It seems to be the final chapter in the life of an accomplished diplomat, in which he can keep his professional, political stature without causing too much damage.
Israel and Jordan grant this man dignity he may or may not deserve. To Israel’s detriment, Rosen seems uninterested in granting that same dignity to the people he is hired to speak to.
What makes the ambassador’s words so disheartening and insulting is the fact his public address was to students who are committing their lives to working toward peace. By speaking loosely and without conviction, he did not grant them the dignity and respect they deserve in their efforts towards creating a better future. Israel can and should do better than this.