I was struck by this passage from President Obama’s speech today before the UN General Assembly:
The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.
That is the truth — each side has legitimate aspirations — and that’s part of what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in the other’s shoes; each side can see the world through the other’s eyes. (Italics mine) That’s what we should be encouraging, That’s what we should be promoting.
What makes Obama think that Israelis haven’t been willing to stand in the shoes of the Palestinians and see things through their eyes? How does Obama care to explain an organization like Peace Now? Or how about IDF soldiers who refused to serve in Gaza and the West Bank? Over the course of the past two decades, Israelis have elected dovish Labor governments led by Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak who favored exchanging land for peace. So no, the problem isn’t the unwillingness of Israelis willing to stand in Palestinian shoes and see things their way. But what happens to Palestinians who want rapprochement with Israel? The Palestinians consider them collaborators and have them executed without trial.
As long as Palestinians name soccer tournamnents and streets after suicide bombers and take to the streets in celebration when a Jewish family is murdered inside their own home they will never be willing to stand in the shoes of Israelis or see things through their eyes.