Yossi Melman at PostGlobal

Yossi Melman

Tel Aviv, Israel

Yossi Melman is a senior commentator for the Israeli daily Haaretz. He specializes in intelligence, security, terrorism and strategic issues. An author of seven books on these topics, his most recent book, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran was published recently by Carroll & Graf. Close.

Yossi Melman

Tel Aviv, Israel

Yossi Melman is a senior commentator for the Israeli daily Haaretz. He specializes in intelligence, security, terrorism and strategic issues. An author of seven books on these topics, his most recent book, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran was published recently by Carroll & Graf. more »

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Passionate Believer in Humanity

I envy the Brits for having Tony Blair as their leader. I remember walking the streets of West Belfast twenty-five years ago. Northern Ireland’s "troubles" seemed to be never-ending. So who could believe that one day the Protestant Rev. Ian Paisley and the Catholic former terrorist Martin McGuinness would be sharing the same government? Who could envision that one day Northern Ireland would witness the end of its bloody history? And it was the British premier, Toni Blair, with his determination, vision, religious beliefs and strong sense of humanity who made it possible.

I envy the British people because we Israelis and Palestinians need an Israeli Blair and a Palestinian Blair to lead us to the promise land of peace and tranquility, of concessions and historic reconciliation. To see Blair, Paisley and McGuinness together smiling, shaking hands, exchanging jokes and preaching peace instead of rage and violence and fire, one can image a comparable scene, though it seems at the moment completely surreal: Haled Mashal, the leader of the fundamentalist Hamas movement, joined one day by Benjamin Netanyahu, the right wing former and most probably future prime minister of Israel, signing a peace treaty. Remember that it was Netanyahu who instructed the Mossad ten years ago to kill Mashal with poison, but Mossad agents failed in their mission.

For making peace in Ireland, Blair guaranteed his place in the history books. But he will also be remembered as a passionate believer in humanity and political decency. His bag is full of achievements. He reformed Labour and turned the decaying movement into a modern social democratic one. In his ten-year leadership he lifted Britain from the divisive and polemic Thatcherite politics it had been mired in. Britain is a better place to live than it was before Blair's days. Internationally, he championed the causes of the poor South and succeeded in persuading the world to write off $40 billion in African countries’ debt. He recognized evil when he saw it and sided with the right causes in the war against global jihadists.

True, his leadership was also stained by his support for President Bush and the unjustified and strategically short-sighted invasion of Iraq. Yet, on balance Tony Blair has proved to be one of the most impressive leaders of the first decade of the 21st century, towering in an era when the general cry is that the world lacks great leaders.

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