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Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel's Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny

Dean Eliot Cohen welcomed Ambassador, Counselor, and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Dennis Ross, for a conversation on his new book, "Be Strong and of Good Courage."
In the book, Ross writes about modern Israel’s founding fathers and their principled leadership that shaped the nation. At a time when the country faces political uncertainty, Ambassador Ross shared the leadership characteristics he believes defined the generation of leaders who safeguarded Israel’s future. In an era of populist leadership, he emphasized the importance of intellectual courage and assuming responsibility, while justifying the cause of action but also the cost of inaction.
Ross discussed his career in Middle East diplomacy, ranging from dealing with the broader East-West issues in the region in the context of the Cold War, to managing and shaping the negotiations of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Regarding Ross’s approach to the book, Cohen was interested in understanding why the focus is on those Israeli leaders who have been associated with war and the conflict with the Palestinians. Ross explained that the premise of his book is Israel’s historical fateful choice in the face on the inevitability of a two-state solution which required political courage and wisdom that secured the country’s existence. By illuminating the hard decisions that those Israeli leaders took, Ross highlighted the evolution and journey of their diverse characteristics and how they all shared profoundly pragmatic skills, a common definition of leadership, and the high degree of responsibility that related to it.

Ross and Cohen also discussed challenges at the center of the peace process, including settlement, sovereignty, security, and the role the United States can take in advancing peace.

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