I suspect that many would not agree, but one way to read yesterday’s application for recognition submitted by Mahmoud Abbas to the United Nations is as a sign of just how long his patience has endured. In a way he spent decades playing the role of Charlie Brown while everyone else, not only Israel but also Tony Blair and the Quartet of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia that Blair represented kept preventing him from connecting with the football of peace in the Middle East. Even if his application is vetoed by the Security Council, the source of that veto will be a matter of public record. All Abbas could do was risk the discontent of his own electorate by playing the game by the rules and letting the chips fall where they may.
Another way to read yesterday’s events is that Abbas has embraced the role of the unreasonable man. In doing so he has found sympathy in at least one Western voice, that of George Bernard Shaw:
The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man.
Abbas has made the unreasonable man’s play for progress. Now we wait to see how all those who proclaim themselves reasonable by their own standards decide how to react.