Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Naptown Races

Annapolis, one of ONAF's favorite cities, played host to a conference involving Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and a bunch of people from 38 other nations, including Syria and Saudi Arabia. Naturally, not much concrete was accomplished aside from a vague agreement to start the "road map" up again.

Problem is that this is even less feasible than it was back in '03 when the "road map" was first implemented. The first step calls for simultaneous trust-building exercises conducted by the Israelis and the PA. The first step involves Israel freezing settlements in the West Bank while the PA targets anti-Israel militants. But Israel insisted before that settlements wouldn't be frozen until the PA moved, and vice versa. (Apparently, neither Hebrew nor Arabic has a word for "simultaneous.") Furthermore, a good many of the settlements that go up in the West Bank go up outside the law, and the incompetent PA can't pursue Hamas' militants in Gaza, and they're the worst sort. This impasse will take a while to get past, especially when the leaders who are supposed to take these bold steps have questionable levels of support among their people.

But there are good things that can come from this meeting. First, Hamas is criticizing it, which can only mean good things. Second, it means that the lines of communication between Israel, the PA, and most of the Arab world will remain open well into the future.

We can't underestimate the importance of this last point. Remember that during the Cold War, a constant line of communication was kept open between the Kremlin and Washington, with the result being that several near-wars between the US and Russia were averted (Cuban missile crisis, for example). A similar line of communication between the Palestinian president and the Israeli PM would help avert an all-out intifada like the one we saw at the beginning of the decade. And contact between Israel and the Arab states would be a good fall-back should direct communication fail.

Peace isn't going to come anytime soon, not with these leaders, and not with this big of a gap between the two sides. But constant communication can keep the tension at a low boil until the respective leaders can gather the strength to make real progress.


Finally, it's difficult to explain to a non-sports fan what being a fan of a football team means. This sounds hokey, but it's almost as if the team becomes family to you. It means letting a group of 44 guys into your home every autumn week for a few hours, really, honestly caring that they do well, and sharing their joy and their pain throughout the season. You've never met them, and probably never will, but a very small part of your heart is with them.

So a moment of blog silence, please, for the recently passed member of our Washington Redskins family, Sean Taylor. I never met Sean, I didn't know his family, but I let him into my home every Sunday when the TV in my area showed the 'Skins game. The hearts of all 'Skins Nation, and indeed football fans everywhere, are with Sean's family now.

And a note to Reed Doughty, who will probably be taking the field as starting safety against the Bills on Sunday: knock the crap out of Lee Evans just once. For Sean.

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