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Jewish World Review
June 27, 2006
/ 1 Tamuz, 5766
Take 26 Nobel laureates, add hope, stir gently...
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Well, at least last week's meeting was historic
PETRA, JORDAN Sounds like a bad idea for a reality show: Gather 26 Nobel Prize
laureates (including the Dalai Lama) at one isolated landmark. Add one king, one
President, two prime ministers, assorted media and business luminaries and even
a movie star (Uma Thurman). Then close the doors, tackle the myriad problems of
"A World in Danger," and come up with solutions. All in 48 hours!
Are they kidding?
Actually, no and since this experiment in wonderland was the brainchild of two
rather remarkable men, Jordan's courageous young King Abdullah and 1986 Nobel
Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, it proved to be far more than an exercise in
noble futility. Indeed, while last week's two-day Nobel Laureates' Conference in
the desert city of Petra may not have solved all the world's woes, in this
participant's humble opinion, it made remarkable headway on at least one major
global crisis and helped pinpoint some of our other most pressing problems as well.
Its most immediate success was in bringing together Israeli Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The two hadn't met
face-to-face since taking office, and the recent election victory of a
Palestinian terrorist regime led by Hamas, Abbas' biggest political foe and
Olmert's sworn enemy, made the chance of a meaningful get-together seem
Both men addressed the conference separately. Then on the last day of the
confab, they gathered for a closed breakfast with Abdullah, Wiesel and select
others. When it was over, Olmert and Abbas hugged each other for the cameras and
agreed to meet formally within the next two weeks or so. Their decision is not
going to instantly stop terrorism or Israeli military reprisals nor may it
result in renewed formal peace negotiations. But of such moves, history is made.
Richard Attias of Publicis Events, the New York based media giant that pulled
the conference together, summed it up this way "Like this entire gathering, the most important thing was that they met, that it happened".
Other issues tackled were far more global. A health committee chaired by former
U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher pointed to the staggering health disparities
between developed and developing countries and called to accelerate the
development and delivery of affordable vaccines especially in Africa, where
150 babies die per 1,000 as opposed to three per 1,000 in the West. A Darfur
Commission of Nobel Laureates will weigh in soon with recommendations for urgent
action to relieve the suffering of the more than 1.8 million people displaced
there over the last three years. An education panel urged ways to monitor and
revise schoolbooks worldwide so that children are not taught to demonize other
Will these and other proposals have any meaningful impact on global suffering?
Some of us recall that old line of Josef Stalin's, when told the Vatican was
unhappy with the Soviets. "How many divisions does the Pope have?"
Well the Pope had none but, over time, he did have sufficient moral impact to
help defeat Communism. And I believe the moral superpower of this most
prestigious community we call Nobel laureates scientists, economists,
statesmen and writers can, taken together, raise the divisions needed to help
defeat many global problems. Elie Wiesel, whose experiences during the Holocaust
have brought him to lead a lifetime battle against injustice and indifference,
puts it this way: "Nobel laureates have no right to remain silent."
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The Arrogance of the French
This book will open your eyes!
Why do the French hate America? Richard Chesnoff has figured it out and informs us with entertaining clarity.
France sucks, but this book doesn't.
Michael Barone, Co-author, The Almanac of American Politics
Americans-and the French-will learn a lot from this book.
Clifford D. May, President, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Richard Z. Chesnoff insightfully-and entertainingly-explores America's most dysfunctional relationship with America's least reliable ally.
Sales help fund JWR.
JWR contributor and veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff is a contributing correspondent at US News & World Report, a columnist at the NY Daily News and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Demoracies. A two-time winner of the Overseas Press Club Award and a recipient of the National Press Club Award, he was formerly executive editor of Newsweek International. His latest book, is "The Arrogance of the French: Why They Can't Stand Us & Why The Feeling Is Mutual". (Click on cover above to purchase. Sales help fund JWR. )
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© 2005, Richard Z. Chesnoff