'A brief seven days of peace."
John Kerry was talking about a tiny cease-fire, the blink of an eye in the endless and gruesome conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, just long enough to pull out the wounded, send in fresh supplies, say separate prayers to a shared God of Abraham and assess the shaky possibility of a broader peace.
Yes, progress is slow at moments like these in places like this one. And yet what else are decent people supposed to try?
The U.S. secretary of state, driven and battle-worn, was doing all that engaged outsiders can. He was pushing the parties together. He was reminding both sides how much they still have to lose. With far too little leverage, he was searching for a hidden break in a wall of hatred built thousands of years ago.
There "was no formal proposal, or final proposal, or proposal ready [for] a vote submitted to Israel," Kerry said, papering over the Israeli reluctance to sign on for seven days. When the two sides agreed to 12 hours, he called it a step and pressed on.
High odds, gritty work, uncertain results.
Negotiation and diplomacy aren't for the fainthearted. But does anyone really prefer shock-and-awe and 10-year U.S. occupations?
No one does.
D.C. WEEKEND CHECKLIST
1. Israelis in Gaza
2. Russians in Ukraine
3. Kids at the Mexican border
4. ISIS in Iraq
5. Little will to solve anything
ASKED AND UNANSWERED: The "No Irish Drunks" sign at George Watson's Dock Bar & Grill in Montauk -- is that offensive? If so, to whom primarily? Pauline Turley of the Irish Arts Center isn't amused. . . . First West Nile, now three cases of the dreaded chikungunya virus? Who knew that mosquitoes were so much more than an LI nuisance? . . . Can't they settle this one in a cage match? Black belt Joe Belluomo has sued chop king Tiger Schulman over ownership of a Manhasset martial-arts school. . . . Isn't it called the People's Room? So why will all Southampton Town Board meetings now convene under armed guard? Summit Security's getting $37.33 an hour . . . You wanna make a loan to Oyster Bay (median household income, $107,620) at favorable interest rates? Fewer and fewer bankers do now that the town's deficit-plagued credit rating inches ever closer to junk. . . . Should NYC helicopters come in off the Sound at Mattituck or Orient Point or wherever they feel like it? In 19 words, does that sum up the whole not-over-my-house chopper-noise debate? . . . Who predicted that a woman would be arrested in the killing and dismemberment of Chinelle Browne? Doesn't that bust all murder-and-dismemberment gender stereotypes? . . . What will the new yes-smoking signs say in Nassau County parks? Pariahs Puffing Here? Last Smoking Area Anywhere?
THE NEWS IN SONG: I'm calling on the whole wide world: Emmanuel Jal's "We Want Peace,"
LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: WILLIAM G. SEBOLD
It's one of the great under-told stories of World War II, and a crucial part of it happened on Long Island. William Sebold was a naturalized German-American who in 1940 became the first double-agent in FBI history. For 16 months, he helped bust a Nazi spy ring in and around New York. With Sebold's help, the FBI set up a shortwave radio station in Centerport to communicate with Hamburg-based spymasters, trading more than 500 secret messages and identifying dozens of German espionage agents in the United States and South America. Thirty-three German spies were arrested, still the largest espionage case in U.S. history. The story is not totally unknown, but author Peter Duffy has dug out some fascinating new details. "Double Agent: The First Hero of World War II and How the FBI Outwitted and Destroyed a Nazi Spy Ring" is just out from Scribner.
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