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I took the time to listen to all 90 minutes of Former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert’s speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Arab Spring, and American-Israel relations, and it was well worth my time – every minute of it! I recommend that you do the same (see link below).

Olmert met with Palestinian President Machmud Abbas 36 times to negotiate a peace deal, but had to resign before they could finalize an agreement. Olmert is clear thinking and direct, at times blunt in this talk! He admits, despite the complexity of the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to being “an optimist” and says that nothing ever improves unless “optimists” are behind it and who refuse to take “No” for an answer.

He believes “without a doubt in my mind” that the possibility for peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, but that it will take “leadership” to make it happen. To date, he says, Israel has demonstrated a lack of leadership.

The following introductory comment to Olmert’s talk was posted by Bernard Avishai on his blog, where I first learned of this speech.

Bernie Avishai is Adjunct Professor of Business at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Visiting Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, where Olmert spoke on November 12, 2013.

Avishai wrote:

“It’s hard to remember a blunter defense of John Kerry’s peace process, or statement of impatience with the Netanyahu government, than Olmert’s talk, …. [He] reiterated to me that he is determined to challenge Netanyahu the next time around; he is waiting for the Israeli courts to clear him of charges in outstanding cases against him. … Olmert listed, in private, an impressive array of people who’d be with him if things do fall into place. So if you’ve been skeptical of him in the past–and who hasn’t?–this lecture will be of particular interest.”