What Will Prof. Saeb Erekat Teach His Students?
Israel HaYom, Israel, August 29
Dr. Saeb Erekat had a lifelong mission: to bring about peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Perhaps he wasn’t born with this dream, but it soon became his life’s calling. He first became involved with peace talks during the 1991 Madrid Conference as deputy head of the Palestinian delegation. He then went on to become the most senior and most trusted Palestinian negotiator. He represented the Palestinian people in Oslo, Camp David, Taba and Annapolis. For almost three decades, Erekat led the Palestinian people nowhere. Summit after summit, talk after talk, he always walked away from the table. Instead of improving the Palestinians’ political goals, he diminished them. Yet last week, Harvard University, one of the best research institutions in the world, chose to appoint Erekat as one of four visiting fellows who will teach this upcoming year at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Unfortunately, it seems as if even a reputable institution like Harvard has fallen victim to the populist worldview of the extreme American Left. There are undoubtedly dozens, if not hundreds, of policymakers, diplomats and political activists around the world who made remarkable impacts in their field. Erekat is surely not one of them. The decision to appoint him as a visiting lecturer at Harvard has nothing to do with his achievements or skills; it’s merely a product of the university’s desire to seem progressive. This problematic approach of rewarding individuals not on the basis of their merit but on the basis of what they represent doesn’t end with academia. It is the same approach that led the Nobel committee to award the coveted Peace Prize to US president Barack Obama fewer than nine months after his election. No one truly believes that Obama made a significant contribution to world peace during that short time period, and yet he was chosen. Even worse, he was probably awarded the prize at the expense of other candidates who probably devoted their lives to real, substantial progress toward peace in places like Afghanistan or China. But who cares? Obama looked better on camera. This reality is extremely concerning. What exactly will Prof. Erekat teach his students? How to turn a blind eye to the murder of innocent civilians? How to repeatedly turn down peace offers? Will these lessons serve as the basis on which the world’s next generation of diplomats and policy-makers, who are currently attending the school, are trained and educated? – Ofir Dayan (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)