Last week I wrote about a joyous event that could give us hope midst the misery of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
Amid the gloom of Israeli-Arab strife, someone are finding ways to light candles instead of cursing the darkness. Young Palestinian musicians from the Jenin refugee camp gave a concert for Israeli Holocaust survivors.
But someone just had to stomp out the candle as soon as it was lit.
The story is like some sort of sick humor anecdote from the Stalin era of the USSR. Politruks and agitprops of the Palestinian Authority first agitated "opinion" of parents in the refugee camp, and then closed down the orchestra because it was "political."
The Palestinian kids confessed that in all their years of fine Palestinian education they had somehow never learned before that there had been a Holocaust. So the Palestinian kids learned something. They also learned that Jews, Israelis, "Yahud" And the Holocaust survivors and the Israeli public learned that Palestinians are humans. Dialogue is a learning opportunity. When it works, it can be beautiful. But it seems it cannot be allowed to work.
Now we can learn something less edifying. The Palestinians shut down the orchestra on the excuse that the dialogue is "political." That should teach us a great deal about the peaceful intentions of the Palestinian Authority, the same Palestinian Authority that continues to exist thanks to the generosity of US and European tax payers. The same Palestinian Authority that is considered a "partner for peace."
It seems that letting young people find out that the other side is human is "political." The cretinous excuses given for this barbaric move are not convincing either. Supposedly "parents" (after being duly coached no doubt) "spontaneously" objected to the "political" excursion of the orchestra, following the usual Hamas line. An educated guess is that the odious Norwegian supported extremist Badil organization was behind the agitation. Badil was created to use the refugee problem in order to perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and prevent a solution with the "Zionist enemy."
Making peace is "political." But it is the right kind of politics. Seeing the "enemy" as human helps to put extremist groups like Badil out of business,
A similar hopeful project - a great peace happening organized by Onevoice, was similarly torpedoed. (see Drowning out one Million Voices: The enemies of peace). At least, in that instance, the Palestinian authority condemned the terrorists who had sabotaged the effort.
The heartbroken leader of the youth orchestra, Younes said, camp officials closed the ensemble so they could take over its funds.
"They want to destroy this group,.. It's a shame, it's a tragedy. What did these poor, elderly people do wrong? What did these children do wrong?"
What can we say to Younes and to her young pupils? Can we say "Summud" - steadfastness? Is help on the way? Will someone raise their voice against this cynical sort of evil and greed? Or will it be excused like so much of the atrocious behavior of Palestinian Authority officials? If nothing is done, it seems the money will be stolen by Fatah officials for propaganda or for their own personal use.
It is hopeless to attempt dialogue when even an event as innocent as this orchestra cannot be allowed by the powers that be. Even in the heyday of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, the Palestinian Authority manipulated the dialogue encounters cynically, sending only "trusted" people and making sure that the events were turned into propaganda fests as much as possible. Public school children of the Palestinian authority were never allowed to engage in dialogue.
It is time to stop making excuses for the Palestinian Authority. It is time to stop trying to bury the problems. Didn't we all know, since 1995, that the Palestinian Authority was hopelessly corrupt? And didn't we try very hard to bury this fact? And what was the result in the end? Didn't the Palestinians get sick of the Fatah corruption and throw them out?
It is time for the Palestinian Authority to benefit from some tough love, from those who have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart. Those who have the ear of the Palestinian authority, if there is anyone there who is listening, should be made to understand that this sort of behavior, and the cynical excuses used to justify it, is totally unacceptable.
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