The Right Honorable Tony Blair kept a crowd of 5,000 Bostonians waiting for an hour Monday evening.
The former British prime minister had a right and honorable reason, though, for his tardy delivery of the annual Issam M. Fares Lecture at Tufts University: Britain’s deepest snowfall in 18 years had snarled traffic and grounded flights Monday.
“Your snow looks worse and you seem to be functioning perfectly normal. Makes you wonder who’s been in charge all those years,” Blair said, warming up his audience with a bit of winter weather chit chat.
Then, it was onto hotter topics in hotter lands – namely, Gaza.
Blair, who for the past 15 months has served as Middle East envoy for the Quartet (US, United Nations, European Union, and Russia), set the stage for his talk by recounting an earlier visit to one of the region’s many holy sites. His guide, a Palestinian, lamented: “‘Moses, Jesus, Muhammad – why did they all have to come here?’”
The region’s Gordian knot of religion, politics, and history must be untangled soon, Blair said. “Resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the single most important thing we can do” to create peace in the region. “Nothing is more important.”