Heartache and Hope by Maria Naser, Palestine

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I closed my eyes after 10 minutes of President Obama’s speech hoping that when I opened them the next time, I’d see and hear a different story. I was wishing to hear someone who was aware of both sides – the Israeli and the Palestinian, someone who would address me when speaking to the audience, someone who would say Jews and Arabs, not only Jews.

I had a heartache: as an Arab sitting in the third row, after spending seven hours driving on the roads and waiting under the burning sun to attend his address and aspiring to find peace in his word; coming to Jerusalem with great effort to give Mr. Obama a chance to prove that he is the man who might bring change to this country. While listening to the first 15 minutes of his speech, on how the Jewish people suffer and how they always lent a helping hand with no one to appreciate it, when we all know this is not the whole truth.

My ache was eased when eventually he revealed the ugly truth: of how both peoples are suffering; how the Palestinians’ right to live life has been stolen from them, knowing that the parties that rule them don’t represent them. He shared with us mesmerizing moments he spent with Palestinian girls and young people. The applause was a bit lower, but there is still hope, since both Arab and Jewish youngsters gathered today with aspiration to make a change and to make peace.

He spoke of peace, of how it’s possible, how we, the future leaders of tomorrow, can make it happen. We have to speak louder in order to affect the people with authority.

His address got me into swinging moods; first I felt humiliated and disappointed, then I left the hall with some hope that maybe, after all, tomorrow can be a better day.

Maria Naser, Palestine

YaLa Young Leaders

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