ISRAEL, July 27, 2013 ― If you don’t watch the TV show Shark Tank on ABC, you should. The basis of the show is that hopeful entrepreneurs and inventors go before a panel of five millionaires and billionaires to ask for an investment in their product, company or invention in exchange for equity.
While the fast-paced and ruthless negotiating, fun and creative inventions and this guy are all great reasons to watch the show, the program is also as informative as it is entertaining.
One of the biggest reasons the panelists, especially self-made billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, will not invest in a product is because they do not feel that the presenter really believes in what he is selling. In fact, in an article written up in Forbes magazine last year entitled “How to Survive ABC’s Shark Tank,” the third-most important tip is that passion and likeability have value.
Cuban himself often explains that he is “out” of the negotiations because if they don’t feel it, why should he?
The internet this week has been inundated with articles about Mahmoud Abbas, Benjamin Netanyahu, Saeb Erekat, Tzipi Livni, John Kerry and the will-they-or-wont-they peace process. Kerry and the stories of his historic travel schedule have only been rivaled by the Royal baby.
Conspicuously missing from this list of common characters is President of the United States, Barack Obama.
Every article praising or criticizing the recent developments centers around Kerry. The Washington Times Communities very own Ruthie Blum just wrote an article entitled “Kerry can take credit for the next war.” However, when has the outbreak of war caused by a country’s unwanted intervention ever not been blamed squarely on its commander-in-chief? If, in fact, these tenuous talks lead to another war, something not very difficult to imagine considering recent history, how does it not fall directly on Obama’s shoulders?
Following Kerry’s declaration of triumph on bringing the Israelis and Palestinians back to the table, he was almost immediately undercut by the president’s press secretary, Jay Carney, who told the media, “We’re at a stage here that represents some positive progress but is not representative of a conclusion of anything.”
It is unclear if this represents the White House’s lack of trust in the Israelis, Palestinians, Kerry, or all of the above, but does it really matter?
Many experts, such as Aaron David Miller, a former Mideast peace negotiator and vice president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, speculate that Obama has learned his lesson after getting “burned” in his first term, when he meddled in a region he clearly badly misunderstood.
Those who would make the case that Obama has become more introspective in general in his second term need only watch his recent remarks on race, in which he deliberately thrust himself squarely into the Trayvon Martin controversy.
Those who say Obama is staying away from the Middle East in general would be equally incorrect. On Tuesday, the White House announced its (absurdly risky) decision to arm the rebels in Syria. On Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel informed Egypt’s military chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that President Obama himself has decided to halt the delivery of four F-16 Fighter Jets due to the tumult playing out in the Egyptian streets.
Therefore, the conclusion must be drawn that Obama, Carney and the White House are nowhere to be found in any discussion of the peace process for another reason altogether. Obama is clearly avoiding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process initiative simply because he has no faith in it and does not want to be associated with its inevitable failure.
Obama has been harder to find when discussing the peace process than Waldo would be at a candy cane emporium. Aaron David Miller referred to it as “good, smart politics,” while many others will see it as cowardly.
No matter how you interpret it, the lesson does not change. If the President of the United States does not believe in a peace process that his very own government is supposedly directing, why on earth should anyone else?
The Mark Cuban rule applies here. If Obama does not believe in his product, no one else will. It is crystal-clear that these most recent efforts to bring the same old lying Palestinian leaders to the negotiating table is not investment worthy, and the Israelis should not spend one cent more on the efforts.
If Netanyahu continues to waste his capital in this snake-oil scam, he may soon see himself, and more worryingly, the people of Israel, as potential shark chum.
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