Peace may never come to the Middle East

Frank Yonkof

It was probably no surprise to anyone this week when Middle East peace talks with President Barack Obama yielded no notable results.

Many people had anticipated seeing some glimmer of hope as leaders from around the world are in town to address the United Nations General Assembly.

As I watched Wolf Blitzer interview Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Situation Room, I couldn’t help but think of the famous Israeli / Palestinian handshake in front of President Bill Clinton. Then my mind shifted to the attempted reenactment by President George W. Bush.

Then I thought of how many more iconic peace photos we will see before we get real results. Would Obama have one? What about his successor?

As I thought about these questions, Blitzer tuned in from the background and brought up the random topic on Jerusalem, and Netanyahu did his best to sidestep it.

“I think the fact that (Jerusalem has) been united under Israeli sovereignty has ensured that, for the last four decades, all major faiths, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, all monotheistic faiths, have enjoyed the great freedom of worship and access to their religious sites,” said the prime minister. “Something that hasn’t happened before since the rise of the three monotheistic religions.”

I agreed.

But then I noticed the same old rhetoric began to spring up.

“Israel was rocketed, pummeled for eight years by thousands of rockets that came from Gaza. . . I mean, what would you do if thousands of rockets fell on . . .ÿany part of the United States?”

In all fairness, the Palestinians have perfected their own talking points, and it seems like rhetoric is the main obstacle in this debate.

As an American who isn’t particularly passionate about supporting either side, I think the problem lies in getting accurate information. Because the United States is deeply involved in the negotiations and shares in whatever consequences are reaped, it is extremely important to know what is going on.

But where do you get facts that are not weighted down with bias or propaganda? It is almost impossible for people like me to get information without having to factor in the “Israeli view” and the “Palestinian view.”

Although I pray there will be peace one day, I am not very hopeful. As my grandfather used to put it, “Those people just love to fight.” Which is true. For thousands of years, that region has been absorbed in conflict and chaos. Do we have any reason to believe peace will finally come in the next decade?

In reality, both the Palestinian and Israeli camps have hard-line supporters who are unwilling to budge, which poses major problems for their leaders when it comes time to negotiate. Even in the aftermath of the famous Clinton handshake of 1993, the Israeli prime minister was assassinated by a fellow Israeli who was upset by the negotiations.

While I honestly believe most Israeli and Palestinian people want peace, I also believe their cultures have a certain mindset that has been influenced by generations of fighting. So it is impossible to believe either side will change that mindset anytime soon.

Frank Yonkof is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].