Excerpt from "Hard Choices"
BY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
In the days before Thanksgiving 2012, the Holy Land once again felt like a war zone. I left a high-level summit in Asia and flew to the Middle East on an emergency diplomatic mission to try to stop an air war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza from escalating into a much more deadly ground war. To do that I would have to broker a cease-fire between implacable and distrustful adversaries against the backdrop of a region in turmoil. After four years of frustrating diplomacy in the Middle East, this would be a crucial test of America's leadership . . .
On the 11-hour flight from Cambodia to Israel, I thought long and hard about the complexities of the crisis. You couldn't understand what was going on in Gaza without also understanding the path these rockets had taken before they were launched, winding their way from Iran through Sudan and ultimately to Hamas, and what those links meant for regional security. You also had to understand the increasingly significant role technology played. The rockets were getting more and more sophisticated, but so were Israel's air defenses. Which would prove decisive? Then you had to consider how the conflict in Syria was creating friction between Sunni Hamas and its longtime Shiite patrons in Damascus and Tehran, at the same time that the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood was rising in Cairo and the Syrian civil war continued to unfold. . . .
At nearly 10 p.m. on Nov. 20, we landed at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv and drove the thirty minutes to Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem. I went right upstairs and sat down with the Prime Minister and a small group of our aides. The Israelis told us they had already begun talks with the Egyptians, who were representing Hamas, but they were foundering on long-standing and difficult issues regarding Israel's embargo of Gaza, freedom of movement for its people, fishing rights off the coast, and other existing tensions. Bibi and his team were very pessimistic that any deal could be reached. They said they were serious about launching a ground invasion into Gaza if nothing changed. They would give me some time, but not much. I was now on the clock . . .
Netanyahu was under a lot of pressure to invade. Opinion polls in Israel strongly favored such a step, especially among Bibi's Likud base. But Israeli military commanders were warning of high numbers of casualties, and Netanyahu was also concerned about the regional consequences. How would Egypt react? Would Hezbollah begin attacking from Lebanon? He also knew that the military had achieved most of its goals within the first few hours of sustained air strikes, especially degrading Hamas's long-range rocket capabilities, and that Iron Dome was doing a good job protecting Israeli citizens. Bibi didn't want a ground war, but he was having trouble finding an exit ramp that would allow Israel to disengage and deescalate without making it seem as if it was backing down in the face of continued Hamas defiance, which would only invite more violence later. Meanwhile Mubarak was gone and the Israelis didn't trust the new Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo. That made the role of the United States even more crucial. At least one Israeli official later told me that this was the hardest choice Netanyahu had faced as Prime Minister. I said I was going to fly to Cairo the next day, and I wanted to bring with me a document that I could present to President Morsi as the basis for final negotiations. The key, I thought, was to be sure to have a few points where the Israelis would be willing to make concessions if pressed, so Morsi could feel as if he had gotten a good deal for the Palestinians. . . .
Morsi was an unusual politician. History had thrust him from the back room to the big chair. In many ways he was in over his head, trying to learn how to govern from scratch in a very difficult setting. Morsi clearly loved the power of his new position and thrived on the dance of politics (until it later consumed him). I was relieved to see that, in the case of Gaza at least, he seemed more interested in being a dealmaker than a demagogue. We met in his office with a small group of his advisors and began going through the document I had brought from Israel's Prime Minister, line by line.
I encouraged Morsi to think about Egypt's strategic role in the region and his own role in history . . . He scrutinized every phrase of the text. "What does this mean? Has this been translated right?" he asked. At one point he exclaimed, "I don't accept this." "But you proposed it in one of your early drafts," I responded. "Oh, we did? OK," he agreed. He even overruled Foreign Minister Amr at one point in the negotiations and offered a key concession . . .
Netanyahu was intent on gaining U.S. and Egyptian help to block new weapons shipments into Gaza. He didn't want to end the air strikes and then find himself back in this untenable position in another year or two. When I pressed Morsi on that point, he agreed it would be in Egypt's security interests as well. But he, in turn, wanted a commitment to reopen Gaza's borders to humanitarian aid and other goods as soon as possible, plus greater freedom of movement for Palestinian fishing boats off the coast. Netanyahu was willing to be flexible on these points if he received assurances on the weapons and the rockets stopped. With each turn of the discussion, we inched closer and closer to an understanding.
After hours of intense negotiation we hammered out an agreement . . . Essam al-Haddad, Morsi's national security advisor, got down on his knees to thank God. Foreign Minister Amr and I walked downstairs to a jam-packed press conference and announced that a cease-fire had been agreed to. It was absolute pandemonium in there, with emotions running high. Amr spoke of "Egypt's historic responsibility toward the Palestinian cause" and also its "keenness to stop the bloodshed" and preserve regional stability. The new Muslim Brotherhood government would never seem as credible again as it did that day. I thanked President Morsi for his mediation and praised the agreement, but cautioned, "There is no substitute for a just and lasting peace" that "advances the security, dignity, and legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis alike." So our work was far from over. I pledged that "in the days ahead, the United States will work with partners across the region to consolidate this progress, improve conditions for the people of Gaza, and provide security for the people of Israel."
As our motorcade raced through the streets of Cairo that night, I wondered how long-or even if-the cease-fire would hold. The region had seen so many cycles of violence and dashed hopes. It would take only a few extremists and a rocket launcher to reignite the conflict. Both sides would have to work hard to preserve the peace. And even if they succeeded, there would be difficult talks over the coming days about all the complex issues we had deferred in the agreement. I could easily be back here soon, trying to put the pieces together again. . . .
As it turned out, the cease-fire held better than anyone expected. In 2013, Israel enjoyed the quietest year in a decade. Later, one senior Israeli official confided to me that his government had been forty-eight hours away from launching a ground invasion of Gaza and that my diplomatic intervention was the only thing standing in the way of a much more ex- plosive confrontation. Of course, I continue to believe that over the long run nothing will do more to secure Israel's future as a Jewish democratic state than a comprehensive peace based on two states for two peoples.
Excerpt from 'Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion'
BY DEREK HOUGH
I'm used to leading on the dance floor. The music starts, and I take my partner's hand, guiding her into position, controlling the flow of energy, directing the movement.
But when it comes to life, taking the lead isn't so simple. It takes guts, but not the kind needed to jump out of an airplane from fourteen thousand feet or perform live in front of an audience of millions. Trust me, I've done both. It's having the courage required to uncover the bigger picture. Where are you going and how will you get there? And most important, who will you become on your journey? Every mistake, every twist, turn, or total wipeout hands you an opportunity to learn and grow. Are you brave enough to take it?
I wasn't. Honestly, the idea of writing a book about my life scared the hell out of me. I didn't think I was ready to go there. It felt overwhelming -- a lot of memories tangled up in emotions. I wasn't sure the timing was right (I was competing in Seasons 17 and 18 of Dancing with the Stars) and I wasn't convinced I knew what to say or how to say it. So I did what I do whenever I'm stuck on a dance and I don't have a clue how to choreograph it. I break it down. I look at it, not as a whole, but as a series of steps that come together. Somehow, seeing each phase of my life this way brought it all into focus. The lessons became clear, the experiences came flooding back in vivid detail, and I felt empowered.
I think I've just begun stepping up and owning my life, and I have a long way to go and lots of things I want and need to accomplish. But at least I'm headed in the right direction. I've started seeing my journey as a work in progress -- sometimes I've rocked it, sometimes I've stumbled or tripped over my own feet. But every move I've made has shaped me into the person I am today. I believe life isn't about finding yourself, but creating yourself. My friend Tony Robbins asks, "What if life isn't happening to us? What if it is happening for us?" I believe that when you seize control, you're nobody's doormat or punching bag anymore -- not even you can stand in your own way (and I am harder on myself than anyone else is). You open yourself up to endless possibilities.
Looking back on my life up to this point (because believe me, I've got a lot of living left to do!), it's been quite a trip. I'm not the skinny, awkward little boy from Salt Lake City anymore. I'm happy with the man I've become, and I owe a great deal to the people who have influenced me and inspired me along the way. These have been my friends, family, coaches, and mentors, the ones who pushed me to push myself. They've even been my rivals -- the dancers who were so good, they made me want to be better. Every obstacle has been a reason to keep moving forward. Paring this book down to the most important moments in my life was no easy task -- I could write ten books, not just one, of everything I've experienced! But these are the experiences that resonate with me the most: the ones that have made me stop, take stock, appreciate, and affirm the person I want to be.
I hope in reading my stories you discover or rediscover who you are and learn how to take the lead in your own life. I hope you learn to channel your passion, harness your power, and connect with your joy.
Joseph Campbell, the American mythologist, lecturer, and writer, believed you should "follow your bliss." This is what I do and what I've always tried to do. Life is a dance, but it's much more than mastering the steps. It's pushing your boundaries, shattering your limits, and exploding in a breathtaking burst of light.
From the book "Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion," by Derek Hough. Copyright 2014 by Derek Hough. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Excerpt from 'Knock Wood'
BY CANDICE BERGEN
"We are gathered here today to say farewell to our little turtle, Toby, who is now departed. He was a brave, good little turtle and he died--How did he die, Candy?"
A pause. "He was supposed to get food once a week and he didn't get it at all."
"I see, he died because you forgot to feed him and so he has gone to turtle heaven, and we will say a prayer for him today. Candy?"
"Dear God, please bless my turtle, Toby, and keep him safe and please forgive me for not feeding him. Amen."
It is the morning of the turtle funeral. I am six. We are standing in the rose garden; a light rain is falling. The day is pale and gray. My mother, eyes respectfully downcast, is wrapped in a trench coat and carries a calla lily; I wear a hat, veil and shawl over jeans and sneakers and carry a toffee tin containing the deceased. Dena, my governess, wears a coat over her uniform, and clusters with Kay, the cook, who holds an umbrella. Mickey, the gardener, his head bowed, stands silently by with a tiny hoe and shovel to break the earth. There is a man shooting 16 mm sound and another shooting stills. They are filming my father, splendid and somber in top hat and overcoat, who holds the Northwestern telephone directory, from which he pretends to read the eulogy.
Though it is a solemn occasion, my father is making us all laugh, and I am trying hard to keep a straight face. I am also trying to remember the words to my song; my father has arranged that I will sing at the service and I am nervous at the thought. It is not so much the singing itself that makes me nervous, nor the presence of the cameras; I am used to appearing with my parents in public, accustomed to cameras. I am nervous about performing well for my father. More than anything, I want to please my father.
In the elaborate, frenzied preparations and excitement of the funeral, the turtle has all but been forgotten. In my preoccupation with performing well, Toby has almost slipped my mind.
My governess and I plucked him from the seething turtle tank at the Farmers' Market. Hundreds of turtles writhed and squirmed in the tank, some whose backs were covered with brightly colored decals of beach scenes and hula girls. Those with the decals died quickly, Dena explained (though ours died fast enough), unable to breathe through the tropical scenes on their shells, so we chose a traditional green one and then selected a home. We settled on a custom turtle dish with an island in its center, shaded by a curving plastic palm, to which we added a Chinese bridge and a porcelain pagoda.
It was a policy at our house that people took responsibility for their pets -- a policy pointedly aimed at me, as I was the only one who wanted them. But a turtle was a kind of "para" pet, resembling a pet only in that it moved from time to time and required scant quantities of food. So scant was the amount required, in fact, that in no time I forgot his food completely. As turtles are the lowest and most sedentary form of pet -- popular only for that reason -- death does not come to them dramatically, and days went by before anyone realized that Toby had passed on.
"Candy, do you have a song you'd like to sing for Toby?"
"What song is that?"
" 'The Tennessee Waltz.' "
"Go ahead then. And project."
I give it all I have:
I was dancin' with my loved one
As the music was playin'
When an old friend I happened to see . . .
"I think the turtle's turning over now," my father says, peering
into the tin.
Doggedly, I continue:
I introduced her to my darlin'
And while they were swayin'
My friend stole my sweetheart from me . . .
"Well, if the turtle's not dead yet," my father chuckles, "I'm sure that would really kill him."
But I can see that my father is pleased. The funeral has gone well. My father is happy; I am happy. Toby is put to rest in the rose garden. The photographs run in the Saturday Evening Post.
It is the morning of the funeral. I am thirty-two. The day is brilliant, warm and sunny. My mother is weeping and wears a pearl-gray suit. My brother, blond head bent, is weeping too. I am wearing a dark-green dress; I do not weep. I am composed, controlled, and I perceive the events as if from a great distance. There are hundreds of people attending the funeral. It is covered by all the press. I am used to appearing with my family in public, accustomed to cameras. I smile at them as I enter the church; it is an unexpected gesture. I am nervous. Once again, I am performing for my father. Wanting more than anything to please. But it is the morning of his funeral, and I will never know if I succeed.
From "Knock Wood," by Candice Bergen. Copyright 2014 by Candice Bergen. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.