Oslo @ Twenty


ad-JJ_edited-1This week, on Sunday, September 29, 2013 in Los Angeles, the American Freedom Alliance will host yet another of its excellent international conferences — this time focusing on the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords.Today, we interview the conference‘s organizer Avi Davis, to discuss the purpose of the conference and its focus.

FP: Avi Davis, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

The Oslo Peace Accords, signed 20 years ago this month, have been regarded as a great diplomatic failure.  Share with us the importance of revisiting them.

Davis: Thanks Jamie.

I believe there are tremendous lessons that can be learned from the Accords’ failure, not just for the Israelis, but for the West in general, particularly in light of the turbulence in the Arab world today.

For instance, the assumption that every Arab government longs for peace and prosperity, a conceit at the heart of the Oslo Accords, should be dispatched as the nonsense it is. Yasser Arafat proved that he had no interest in the kind of peace envisaged for him by his Western interlocutors – and that is a lesson that can be readily applied to many other Arab leaders today.

FP:  You have a very esteemed group of panelists offered at this conference – from Bret Stephens , who recently won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism, to renowned Middle East commentator Daniel Pipes, to former State Department official Aaron David Miller, among 20 other speakers and panelists.

What will the emphasis of these speakers be?

Davis: Well, we have titled the conference Oslo@20: Cost and Consequences of the Peace Process and I expect that each one of the speakers will provide his own unique response to the question of the meaning of the Oslo Accords for both Middle East and world history.

There are indeed some unique perspectives.  For instance, we also have at this conference two individuals who lived in the Palestinian territories for a good part of their early lives, – Nonie Darwish and Walid Shoebat. They will give their perspectives on their birth place,  both pre-Arafat and post-Arafat and the impact that the Accords had on their individual lives and the lives of their families.

FP: The conference does seem a little weighted in the direction of those who initially thought the Oslo Accords were a bad idea or within a short time became vigorous opponents.  Can you explain the choice of speakers and panelists?

Davis: The conference is premised on the notion that the Oslo Accords were not just a failure, but a disaster for the region. Admittedly for Israel, there were some side benefits that followed the White House ceremony – diplomatic openings around the world, economic opportunities that were not possible before. But for the main we chose speakers who can now sensibly assess the Accords and the role they played in shaping diplomacy and military preparedness in the region.

FP: Will there be any examination of the so-called “Two State Solution” or of other solutions to the Middle East Conflict?

Davis: We played around with this idea when we began planning the conference but it was decided that any emphasis on “solutions” was inadvisable, since there is so much to discuss about what went wrong with the supposed solution proposed 20 years ago.

You can’t really discuss solutions without having an understanding of the causes of your previous failure.  Having said that it is inevitable that there will be extensive discussion of the ” two sate solution” in the speakers’ remarks.  There is just no specific topic which addresses it.

FP: What other topics will the Conference address?

Davis: Bret Stephens will open the conference  with a keynote address titled, The Oslo Accords and their Impact Upon Middle East and World History. That will be followed by panels addressing the likely success of the Accords at their outset; a discussion of who benefited from the Accords and who suffered; the lessons to be drawn from Oslo’ s collapse and then a final panel at the end of the day, with all the speakers participating, addressing the question of If Not Oslo, then What?

FP: Sounds very comprehensive.  How can people find out about the conference and how can they register?

Davis: The best way to find out about the conference is to visit the Conference’s website.  There you can find tabs which will offer the full program, all speaker biographies and a registration page which will lead you to an online booking agent.  If any further information is required then calling our office would be the next step at (310) 444 3085.

FP: Avi, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Good luck at what looks to be a stellar line-up.

Davis: I appreciate that Jamie. And thank you for the opportunity to share this with your readership.

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