In the hearts of those who dream of peace, hope can never be extinguished. That's why the majority of Israelis and American Jews still believe in and seek peace with the Palestinians, in addition to the rest of the Arab and Islamic world.
And yet, there are times when it is vital that even the most ardent dreamers of peace must wake up to the reality of a few pertinent facts about the other side in this ongoing tragic conflict.
Such a wake-up call was delivered last week in the form of a poll conducted by a Palestinian political scientist, whose surveys have been written about with respect by the secular media.
Khalil Shikaki's Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research reports that a startling 84 percent of Palestinians supported the March 6 attack on the Mercaz Harav yeshiva, in which eight Jewish students were slaughtered. A lesser but still impressive majority of 64 percent support the barrage of rockets and missiles that have launched from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel.
The poll did show a majority favoring a two-state solution to the conflict pending a complete Israeli withdrawal from all of the West Bank and a division of Jerusalem, but it also registered rising support for the Hamas terrorists at the expense of so-called Palestinian moderates who, at least in theory, also want a two-state solution.
Shikaki, who once aided Islamic Jihad terrorists before becoming a respectable source for Western journalists, blames the results on Israeli defensive measures that have been necessitated by the terror his respondents support. But the popularity of cold-blooded murder there has more to do with the nature of Palestinian political culture than with anything Israel has or might do.
Nearly 15 years of Palestinian Authority control of the media and the schools in the territories has promoted a culture of hate for all things Israeli and Jewish. The consequences of fomenting terror as they have done are not merely a matter of motivating some people to commit murder. It has also resulted in unprecedented acceptance of the most inexcusable crimes — such as the murder of young persons immersed in the study of religious texts — in the name of Palestinian nationalism and Islam itself.
The search for peace should never be abandoned, but anyone who promotes possible solutions to the conflict must address the reality of Palestinian society. As long as crude hatred for Jews is the language of the Arab street — and the murder of Jews and Israelis is the way that Palestinian political groups gain credibility and support — then a genuine and lasting peace is simply impossible.