As an entrepreneur, I see opportunities all around me. As a businessman I must temper the temptation of running after opportunities with following the strategic goals I have set for my business. In this way, I plan small consistent steps towards achieving success.
When I was recently asked why I thought most people were held back from their aspirations, my answer was “fear.” The question was asked in the context of business, but I believe it is true in most, if not all fields of life.
I am still the Zionist idealist who believes in Herzl’s vision, “If you will it, it is not dream.” However, often taking that first step to decide to really fulfil our dreams and take action towards doing so is very scary.
We all seek to build something with our lives and each of us accepts a certain amount of risk to do this. Some may concentrate on careers, on community, on family, on the pursuit of knowledge, of technological achievements or of the greater good. Usually our accomplishments are achieved through a series of smaller steps that are less daunting than our dreams. If we focus, we achieve what we set out to do even if this means changing the world – I have seen it over and over again.
I found President Obama’s recent speech at Cairo University so reassuring because instead of preaching fear, he offered a plan to build something together towards a common goal that would serve all interests.
As when building my business or my relationship with my wife, there are many steps to be taken towards peace in the region. The first step in all of these is the decision not to look backwards, not to be fearful and to move ahead and pursue a goal.
Just as I would not expect to turn to a stranger and have them accept a marriage proposal, or a business proposal, I do not expect Palestinians as individuals nor as a nation to form a commitment with me or my people without first establishing a relationship through smaller steps.
The President did not just offer a vision. He outlined in broad strokes the steps that must be taken to achieve what we all want. Again, as I do for my business, he set the goals and then outlined the steps required to achieve them. This is the path to success.
Concerning Israel, he clearly stated the outcome of the process: “The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.”
Although this was greeted by applause and there may be agreement with the majority of Israelis and Palestinians, one can not just jump from a first date to marriage even if you both are pursuing the same goal.
For Obama, “[t]he obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear.” He then challenged us to live up to our previous obligations as the first step in moving forward and his first priority was loud and clear: “For peace to come, it is time for…all of us to live up to our responsibilities. Palestinians must abandon violence.”
Unfortunately, we are not always capable of doing what seems so clear. It has often taken me years to build up key capabilities in my business in order to take it to the next level. I find this process to be slow and frustrating, especially when the outcome is clear, the process is clear, but the progress it takes to build our capabilities takes time and hard work.
The President continued his call towards building and pursuing our goals. He urged us not to look back with fear and hate, telling the Palestinians that they must be accountable by building their own future and ability to deliver it fulfilling their responsibilities: “Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people…Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel’s right to exist.”
Israel was also called to honor our agreements and to work towards peace:
“The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop….And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society….. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.”
To me, it is clear through the language and the content of his message, that President Obama is working towards a specifically defined outcome. He is achieving his goals towards building and creating a solution.
By being proactive instead of reactive in creating policy and pursuing its implementation, he is moving forward and making progress.
President Obama is changing American policy away from fearful reactive deviations in order to get back on track towards America’s strategic goals. He has asked other leaders to follow his lead. Of the attacks on September 11th, he said, “[t]he fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.”
When setting foreign policy, Prime Minister Netanyahu is not a dreamer who builds. He is a student of history who looks to the past and is fearful of moving forward.
With such different perspectives, it will not surprise me if Netanyahu squelches hope, plays on fear and opposes progress with no alternative plan to build a future for our region.
As President Obama said, “The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.”
How long will we who live in the region continue to live in frustration of our leaders’ inability to get us there?
Perhaps even if our regional leaders refuse to act, President Obama will inspire us to follow the peaceful popular movements which have brought change throughout the world so that we too may reach the end in sight which will best serve us all.