What really happened in Jerusalem
by CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER
March 29, 2013
"I honestly believe that if any Israeli parent sat down with those [Palestinian] kids, they'd say, ‘I want these kids to succeed.' " - Barack Obama, in Jerusalem, March 21
Very true. But how does the other side feel about Israeli kids?
Consider that the most revered parent in Palestinian society is Mariam Farhat of Gaza. Her distinction? Three of her sons died in various stages of trying to kill Israelis - one in a suicide attack, shooting up and hurling grenades in a room full of Jewish students.
She gloried in her "martyr" sons, wishing only that she had 100 boys like her schoolroom suicide attacker to "sacrifice . . . for the sake of God." And for that she was venerated as "mother of the struggle," elected to parliament and widely mourned upon her recent passing.
So much for reciprocity. In the Palestinian territories, streets, public squares, summer camps, high schools, even a kindergarten are named after suicide bombers and other mass murderers. So much for the notion that if only Israelis would care about Arab kids, peace would be possible.
That hasn't exactly been the problem. Israelis have wanted nothing more than peace and security for all the children. That's why they accepted the 1947 U.N. partition of British Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. Unfortunately - another asymmetry - the Arabs said no. To this day, the Palestinians have rejected every peace offer that leaves a Jewish state standing.
This is not ancient history. Yasser Arafat said no at Camp David in 2000 and at Taba in 2001. And in 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered a Palestinian state on all of the West Bank (with territorial swaps) with its capital in a shared Jerusalem. Mahmoud Abbas walked away.
In that same speech, Obama blithely called these "missed historic opportunities" that should not prevent peace-seeking now. But these "missed historic opportunities" are not random events. They present an unbroken, unrelenting pattern over seven decades of rejecting any final peace with Israel.
So what was the point of Obama's Jerusalem speech encouraging young Israelis to make peace, a speech the media drooled over? It was mere rhetoric, a sideshow meant to soften the impact on the Arab side of the really important event of Obama's trip: the major recalibration of his position on the peace process.