December 18, 2018

An amazing story of the power of the gift.

Last week, I was invited to attend the State Department Holiday Party at Blair House, our Nations’ guest house for visiting dignitaries and VIPs. It is a stunningly beautiful home with numerous reception rooms, across from the White House.

Gifts for DiplomatsWhile at the party I met the former Chief of Protocol for President Carter, Kit Dobelle, who shared with me a remarkable story concerning the power of the gift.

Kit recalled how in September of 1978 President Carter hosted President Sadat of Egypt, and Prime Minister Begin of Israel, for peace talks at Camp David, Md. After 10 days of negotiations, the parties were at an impasse, and Prime Minister Begin informed the Americans that he and his team would be leaving the next day without agreement.

That evening, President Carter went over to the Protocol Office and noticed Kit had prepared signed photographs that had been taken earlier.  Prime Minister Begin had asked for the photos for his granddaughters, which Kit had dedicated in their names.

President Carter picked these up and took them over to Begin’s cabin as his parting gift. On receiving these, Begin welled up with emotion. A few hours later, the Israeli’s informed the Americans of their intention to stay. A few days later on September 17th,1978, the Camp David accords, the basis of the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt, were signed.

Truly this is a gift that changed the course of history! It demonstrated the emotional power of the gift to make a difference. It seems that Prime Minister Begin, a very tough negotiator, was confronted by his responsibility to his granddaughters and to future generations to go the extra mile and find the solution for peace.

Once again it was not the cost of the gift, but it’s symbolic power.


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