Is it the fruit of the Iraq war? The death of Arafat? The Brits think it's due to their patient lobbying through the course of the first Bush administration. Whatever the reason, the US, and that means the Bush administration, is more closely involved in peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians than it has ever been before. And for a host of reasons, there is actually some reason for hope on the ground where there has not been going back inot the last year of Bill Clinton's presidency.
At 2 PM today at the National Press Club, a new organization CALME (Campaign for American Leadership in the Middle East) is announcing an online petition drive for an open letter to the president commending his renewed attention to the issue and urging him to stay the course, to stick to it, in the face of what are certain to be setbacks in the negotiations and complications in other parts of the region.
(One might less charitably suggest the tendency of some in administration camp to get distracted by more fun ventures like invading other countries. But that's me talking, not them. They're very bipartisan.)
The event today will be emceed by former Joint Chiefs Vice Chair Joe Ralston. And on hand will be former Rep. and 9/11 Commission Co-Chair Lee Hamilton, former Secretary of State Larry Eagleburger and others. And if you go to the website you'll see that they've already compiled an impressive and very politically and religiously diverse least of signers.
The point, however, is not so much to get the bigwigs on board as to get ordinary Americans from across the country to add their voice. It's neither to bash the White House nor rally around it, but commend the recent progress and to get as many Americans as possible to make clear that settling this issue once and for all, with a two state solution, is not just a concern for Arabs and Jews, peaceniks or likudniks, or some peripheral concern, but something the great majority of Americans recognize as both the right thing to do and in America's vital national security interests.
If you'd like to add your voice, visit the site.