Things, however, went beyond that. The Palestinian Authority decreed that there would be no “normalization,” and people or institutions were ordered and threatened against such trust-building measures. One Israeli center invited 35 Palestinians to discuss conciliation. Two came to the first meeting and only one, a non-Arab, came to the second. The resistance to such bridge-building comes from the Palestinian side, even if people want to do so but are intimidated.
Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of young people — politically, religiously, they must seem a world away. But the things they want, they’re not so different from what the young people here want. They want the ability to make their own decisions and to get an education, get a good job; to worship God in their own way; to get married; to raise a family.
Perhaps. But the problem is how their wants are to be interpreted. It is a miracle of self-imposed ignorance that Obama makes no mention of what has happened in those four years. In country after country radical Islamists have been taking over who define what they want (hint: genocide against the Jews and Israel being wiped off the map). The moderate young people Obama has described are being repressed. Some have fled Egypt. Obama has done nothing to help them.
The same is true of those young Palestinians that I met with this morning. The same is true for young Palestinians who yearn for a better life in Gaza.
Perhaps when those young people take over from that repressive, undemocratic state things will change. But won’t Israel have to wait until that change comes? And for each one of such people there are one thousand who support violence, believe in total victory, and want Israel dead.
Even within Israel itself, Obama was heckled by an Israeli Arab college student who was horrified by his “pro-Israel” statements and told interviewers later that he wanted Israel as a state to disappear. Guess he wasn’t one of those young people. Would all Palestinians ready to live in their Arab Muslim state alongside Israel as a Jewish state please raise their hands?
“That’s where peace begins,” Obama continued, “not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people.” Yet what has happened in the hearts of people on the other side? That’s where the problem is. And if they have peace in their hearts they better keep it hidden there or else.
In his 1948 book about apartheid South Africa, Cry the Beloved Country, Alan Paton wrote:
I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find we are turned to hating.
But which side in this case can make that statement? Israel? The Palestinians and other Arabs? Both? Does a mirror image exist of equivalency? If Obama really did comprehend the situation, he would press a lot harder on the Palestinian side. Every time he has asked for help, Israel has said “yes”; the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have said “no.”