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Legacy & Leadership in the Middle East: It’s Come Down to This.

After listening to the speeches given by the President of the United States, the President of Egypt, the Prime Minister of Israel, the King of Jordan, and the President of Palestinian National Authority last night one cannot help but appreciate how often the word ‘leader’ or ‘leadership’ was used and in what capacity. It became apparent that the leaders directly involved, Netanyahu and Abbas, were caught in the same quagmire: they knew that time was running out and the opportunity for a final two state solution was fading.

With all the of outside forces, with all the polarization among their own constituents, both leaders understood that such a moment will demand a particular type of courage–a type of courage that necessitates taking a step beyond the position of their supporters and demands a broad view, rather than a series of incremental, tactical, steps. Too many leaders get trapped in the ancient art of delay, killing time, and muddling through–but sooner or later the issue of legacy, the issue of hopes and dreams, enters into the equation. And in that moment leaders must find their courage, not from their allies and backers, but from their own commitment to legacy.

It seems that much of what will happen in the next number of months will ride on what type of legacy these leaders want to forge. Both Abbas and Netanyahu are great stewards of the art of political survival and brinkmanship. Like all leaders they have shown their political and managerial competence, but now in the latter days of their careers they have come to a place where the drama and the historical possibility will challenge them to go down a very hard path with courage.

All leaders have this moment: the moment when they simply say, “it’s come down to this.”

Picture Credit: Occhichiusi



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