No telling if Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert can make peace, but he can make predictions. Consider the one he tossed out in January 2005, the last time he broke bread with Martin O'Malley.
O'Malley, then mayor of Baltimore, was visiting Israel as part of a delegation of city officials and community leaders. At the time, Olmert, a cabinet minister who'd previously served as Jerusalem mayor, joined the group for dinner.
At some point, Olmert stood up and made some remarks to the group. (I know this because somebody made a video, which the governor's press office provided yesterday as Olmert and Governor O'Malley lunched at the governor's mansion.)
"I hope that maybe next time I come to Maryland, I'll meet with the [inaudible] governor," Olmert said, putting his hand on the O'Malley's shoulder and then shaking his hand.
A flagging interest in world peace
John Cox lives right across King George Street from the Naval Academy. Eager to do his part for peace, he unfurled an Annapolis flag and a peace flag out front. Sounds like a simple gesture, but don't try this at home. Scoring a peace flag isn't so easy.
"I went online and did a search. I really didn't see many places around" that sell a peace flag, the 50-year-old electronics engineer told me.
Eventually, Cox found a place in Glen Burnie, CRW Flags, that carries a blue banner with a white dove holding an olive branch. But when he got to the store, the clerk had trouble turning one up on the shelves.
"I think it's under miscellaneous," Cox recalled her telling him. "I remember now -- I think it's discontinued. I have one left."
"I thought that was rather ironic," said Cox, who nevertheless gladly shelled out $145 for the two flags, poles and hardware needed to attach it all to his cedar-shingled house.
A woman at the store told me CRW will special-order peace flags if customers want them, but it doesn't make much sense to keep them in stock. (She wouldn't give me her name since peace, apparently, is a touchy topic.)
"We don't get much call for them," she said. "If it hadn't been for this conference, we probably wouldn't have sold that one. They're not fast sellers, that's a fact."
One world peace, hold the mayonnaise
To all the skeptics who say you can't cure what ails the Middle East in one day, Annapolis deli owner Ted Levitt says: Baloney!
That's because the confab in Maryland's capital isn't really the one-day wonder it's been made out to be. People have been trickling into town, and into Chick & Ruth's Delly, for days.
Several men from the Israeli and Palestinian delegations had lunch -- together -- at the Main Street eatery Monday, Levitt said. Four of them came in and stayed two hours. Later, two others -- one Israeli, one Palestinian -- ate and talked there for 90 minutes.
None of them ordered the Golda Meir, the bagel with lox, cream cheese, onion and tomato, otherwise known as No. 17 on the menu filled with namesake sandwiches. But that's beside the point.
"I saw it here," Levitt said. "They're all talking. There's a lot of work going on that has nothing to do with the Naval Academy. Just for them to be able to sit down. You never know what can happen."
Wynn Bone Casa Nova Gallery, an Annapolis shop that carries pricey porcelain chickens known as "Les poules de Catherine Hunter," added a few signs to its display windows: "Don't Be Chicken About Peace" and "Stop Pecking Around ... Make Peace!" Shop owners Jim Jaffre and Wynn Bone, who sell the chickens for $75 to $185, had their fingers crossed for more than Middle East peace. Said Jaffre: "I was hoping Prince Saud would come in and buy them all." ... Not all the action was at the Naval Academy. The Sun's Lauren Brown reports that First Presbyterian Church was open "for reflection and prayer" all day.