Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January-February 2008, pages 66-67
From Madrid to Annapolis: Where Do We Go From Here?
A DELEGATION FROM the Council for the National Interest Foundation held a press conference Nov. 16 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to report on their five-nation trip to the Middle East. In addition to peace activists and non-governmental organizations, the delegation met with high-ranking officials in each country. The travelers asked everyone they met in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and the West Bank about their expectations for the Annapolis conference.
The delegation included Ambassador Robert V. Keeley, who served as U.S. ambassador to Greece, Zimbabwe and Mauritius. Their group engaged in citizen diplomacy, he explained, because at the moment the United States doesn’t have high-quality diplomacy with those countries. People seemed desperate to talk to Americans and present their case, he said.
Daniel Lieberman, editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly Web-based newsletter, said he couldn’t believe his eyes as he personally witnessed illegal settlements and empty, ruined, locked-up Palestinian shops in Hebron.
Israel looks like a police state, said Richard Bliss, a lawyer who has practiced in Washington, DC for more than 30 years and currently represents CNI on Capitol Hill. If this is an example of our shared values, he said, then America today is not the country he grew up in. “If Americans could see what we saw,” Bliss added, “they’d be outraged and embarrassed.”
Milton Viorst, an American journalist and author of six books on the Middle East, described the anger in Lebanon today thanks to U.S. support for Israel’s “gratuitous, merciless” attack on Hezbollah.
Shannon O’Hara, CNI’s newest staff member, said the Palestinian leaders they met with were the only people who were optimistic about Annapolis.
—Delinda C. Hanley