The Human Spirit: Rose-colored glasses

barbara sofer 88 (photo credit: )
barbara sofer 88
(photo credit: )
I recently attended a party for a girl named Gili - not a birthday party but an eye-glasses party. Gili was the first in her nursery school class to get glasses, and the other three-year-olds were invited by her perceptive and sensitive parents to turn a potentially distressing moment into a cause for celebration. Gili's aunt, adroit with scissors and iridescent pipe cleaners, shepherded the tiny classmates through an activity utilizing butterfly-shaped stickers, stars, colored markers and glue sticks. At a critical moment, each preschooler had to choose a shade of cellophane for the lenses. "How do you want to see the world - all green or yellow or rosy?" she asked them. Like Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, the lenses would determine the way they'd see the world. Before you could say Jacob Robinson, all the three-year olds were wearing glasses, not just Gili. Only theirs were colored. As the little boys and girls walked around with their colored glasses, I realized it was a fitting analogy for Israeli society. For all of our trouble-honed Israeli astuteness, we're accustomed to seeing the world through lenses of our own making. And I also realized that if we want to secure the future of these precious youngsters, we have to take off our own rose-colored glasses. IT'S OUR relationship with the Palestinians that I keep thinking of. Don't you think that it's more than a little disturbing, considering the scope of the Hamas victory, that all our local experts failed to foresee it? How quickly we forget the viciousness of more than four years of terror, each murderous bombing joyfully celebrated on the streets of Gaza and the West Bank. The early days of the intifada were the late chairman Arafat's attempt to gain the concessions he was unable to get at Camp David. I've asked many Palestinians why they continued even though it meant additional checkpoints, retaliatory bombing and ultimately a wall that would prevent them from entering the modern state next door. In embarrassment, they would only talk about their anger. I finally realized that the Palestinians continued the years of bus and cafe bombings out of satisfaction at the horrors they could inflict on us. A few reminders? At least three bombings were initially directed at hospitals - a bomber on Rehov Hanevi'im in Jerusalem allegedly wanted to blow up newborns at Bikur Holim Hospital. The bomber in the Matza restaurant in Haifa was allegedly on her way to Rambam Hospital. And more recently a bomber who had been treated at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba was on her way to destroy that home of healing. Then there was the schoolteacher who detonated himself in the middle of a double bus full of parents with children. Remember the father from Bethlehem who went on TV the night after his son blew up a bus and wished that his other nine children would follow their brother's footsteps? Each bombing was cheered. These weren't random expressions of a few fanatics, but the manifestation of the loathing felt for us by the Palestinian people. All through the intifada, the Palestinian polls showed that huge majorities of men and women supported the terror. These emotions don't just go away. Only the security fence, targeted assassinations by Israel and a certain exhaustion have, thank God, cut down the number of attacks, not a change of heart or renunciation, nor an abandoned determination to destroy Israel. So they voted Hamas, not for the reasons that those who failed to read the popular mood now give as explanation - but because they believe in the demonic ideals of Hamas. The old saying that people get the government they deserve may not be true when despots take control, but it's certainly true where adult men and women get to cast their vote. THE PROOF of the people's ability to have their voices heard was seen recently in Israel's Labor Party primaries. The polls and pundits agreed that a neophyte politician named Avishay Braverman would come in around 15th. But most of more than 100,000 Labor Party members liked the idea of having the pragmatic and visionary head of Ben-Gurion University, someone who already has impressive accomplishments, among the country's potential leaders. They checked the box near his name. Braverman came in third, and would have done as well in open primaries in any of the parties. That's the beauty of democratic elections - you get to see what the people really want, not a narrow reflection of your own tinted world view, whatever that may be. We shouldn't have been surprised that Hamas won, and we should accept at face value the unhappy truth that the Palestinian people voted the leaders of their choice into power. European nations may romanticize everyone's terrorists but their own into philosopher revolutionaries, but we should know better, even though it's hard to internalize just how much we're hated. We have elections coming up, too. Whether we think we should shun this enemy or negotiate, we shouldn't fool ourselves into believing that our local version of Osama bin Laden is any more likely to metamorphose into an Anwar Sadat than was Yasser Arafat. As the optometrist says: open your eyes wide. We owe it to our kids to do exactly that. Let's leave the rose-colored glasses for the three-year-olds.