By Matthew Brokman
Dennis Ross, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, joined Washington, DC, area students at The George Washington University last week to talk about his experiences in Israel and dispel myths about the Middle East. The event was hosted by The George Washington University's Student Alliance for Israel and the Israel on Campus Coalition of Greater Washington.
With the publication of his new book, "Missing Peace," Ross said he wanted to "expose the mythologies being perpetuated now" and help Israel, the United States, Arab nations and Palestinians as they begin "adjusting to reality."
Among the myths that Ross exposed was the idea that Palestinians made no concessions during peace talks. Instead, he told of the negotiating at Camp David and described Yasser Arafat's negotiators as willing to work with the Israelis on a variety of issues, such as the right of return, the issue of water and Jerusalem. Ross said that contrary to the notion that Israel only offered solutions that the Palestinians would not accept, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat went back to the Palestinians and lied about what he was offered.
Ross argued that the four major participants in the peace talks need to adjust their way of thinking, saying the Americans, Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs all need to go beyond where they are now. He encouraged the United States to take a more dominant stand than the Bush administration has over the past couple of years.
"Essence of negotiation is mutual adjustment," he said.
With reference to the election and its effect on American Mideast policy, Ross said that regardless of the winner, Arafat's fading health and possible death, as well as the Knesset's vote to pull out from Gaza, will require U.S. involvement in the region. He seemed hopeful for a peaceful future.
"Missing Peace" has been excerpted in Arab and Palestinian papers, sold out in East Jeurusalem and is being distributed to members of the Palestinian Authority. Ross hopes the book will set the ground for new negotiations that can ultimately lead to peace.
Matthew Brokman is a student at The George Washington University.