High Representative/Vice-President of the EU, Federica Mogherini recently received the Hessian Peace Prize.
She donated the prize to an organization called Yala:
I have decided to donate this prize today that you awarded to me to the Young Leaders’ Academy YaLa. It is a group of young Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs who are trying to change our times, their times and to build peace together concretely through dialogue and cooperation in the region in their daily lives.
The first edition of this Peace Prize celebrated the Oslo Accords. So for me it is only natural to donate my award to these young people, men and women, who are trying to save Oslo by turning the promise of Oslo into reality.
So what is YaLa?
There are a number of components. For example, the MENA Leaders for Change Program, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, where Arab and Israeli students take part on various college-level peace studies.
I looked at Yala Press, a website where Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs can talk about their feelings about various topics.
What I found was that while Israeli writers are obsessed with peace with Palestinians, the Palestinians (in general) show little interest in peace with Israelis. (There are some rare exceptions, where Palestinians say they are OK with Israelis who oppose the “occupation,” but most of the articles about peace with Israel come from other Arab countries.)
This recent post from a young man in Gaza talking about the 2014 war inadvertently shows the huge moral divide between Palestinians and Israelis. he describes what happens after he was woken up by a nearby airstrike in a story that is almost certainly peppered with lies:
I looked around myself in that room to wake my sleeping family up, but I found no one! The door of the room was open, and everyone was out. I rushed to the hall of the home and no one was there. I looked into the kitchen and the other rooms, but I realized I was left alone.
Having no hopes in staying at home alone to wait for my family, I went out and joined the crowds of people who were still running to somewhere seeking shelter! …
To make sure my family was alright, I went to my father’s uncle’s home, that my dad used to always go to whenever something dangerous happened. I found my family there, and everyone was scared except my dad who was so mad at me! Well, he slapped me on my face asking me why I did not pick up the phone when he called me. I asked him why he did not take me with him when they fled, telling him that my phone’s battery was dead.
“I wanted you to be a man, so I left you alone at home. Well, in this war, I shouldn’t have done this!” Dad said, and then hugged me. I was and am still proud of my dad, who wanted me to be a man even during the bad situations.
His father left him at home during bombings that the youth claims left bodies of dozens of women and children on the street (there were no airstrikes of that type in Gaza in 2014) – in order to teach him to be a man? And he’s proud of that?
Yala, like so many other “peace” programs, is created by and pushed by Israelis and Westerners. (Uri Savir seems to be its founder.) Nearly all of the articles that talk about real peace are written by Israelis. The Palestinians talk about how terrible their lives are but only blame Israel, not saying a word about their own failed leadership and the culture of glorifying martyrdom that they live in. Israelis will be upset at their government (they’ll happily go on Breaking the Silence tours of Hebron, for example) but Palestinians aren’t. Some non-Palestinian Arabs do talk about peace with Jews but very, very few Palestinians.
This is not fostering peace to any real extent. It is blaming one side for the lack of peace. But the EU and Federica Mogherini love programs like these because it allows them to throw money at programs that pretend to foster normalization between Palestinians and Israelis.
The only reason Yala has any success is because it is primarily online. The founders realized that the PA is dead-set against “normalization” so instead of shaming Abbas for his anti-peace stand, they pretend that online cooperative projects are good enough.
All you have to do is read the many stories written by Yala Young Leaders. The ones that advocate peace between Israelis and Palestinians are at least 95% Israeli. The editors at Yala Press come from Israel, Tunisia, Sudan and Morocco – but none from the Palestinian territories.
But no one seems too concerned because appearances are more important than facts.
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.