Fifteen Minutes

Fifteen minutes, a quarter of an hour, can seem like a lifetime.

Angela Bertz

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No one likes a long after-dinner speech.
On October 11th 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took 13 minutes to deliver her simpering keynote address at the American Task Force on Palestine Inaugural Gala. I read it out and timed it, and for good measure added on an extra two minutes for cheesy grins and a couple of effective pauses, where she should have had trouble looking at her audience.
Fifteen minutes. A quarter of an hour.
Fifteen minutes is probably as long as it took Condoleezza to be driven in the comfort of her secured chauffeur-driven limousine from her Washington DC residence to the gala.  
At the same time, those same fifteen minutes is probably as long as it took the "moderate" (a word used seven times in the speech) President Mahmoud Abbas to put on his latest designer suit, with matching tie and beautifully polished shoes.
Fifteen minutes, a quarter of an hour, can seem like a lifetime.
Fifteen minutes is probably as long as it takes the average Hamas or Fatah terrorist to don a suicide belt, and give his farewell address in the presence of his proud mother, before heading for a packed pizza parlour in Jerusalem and the empty promise of 72 vestal virgins.  
Fifteen minutes is probably as long as it takes an Israeli paramedic to fight for the life of one of his victims, often a child whose body is riddled with shrapnel and 75% burns.
Fifteen minutes is probably as long as it takes for a doctor to tell a distraught parent that they tried all they could to save the life of their child, and they must take comfort that there was no suffering.
Fifteen minutes is probably as long as it takes for that same child to be lowered into the ground, and a lifetime of hopes and aspirations to be buried with him.
Fifteen minutes is probably about as long as it takes his friends to travel on buses to their local school, never knowing if among their midst sits a Palestinian man or a woman with explosives strapped 'round their waist. 
Fifteen minutes is probably as long as it takes the Palestinians to fall into their streets with their own children whooping for joy and firing guns in the air to celebrate that Israeli child's, and a dozen more innocent people's, deaths.
Fifteen minutes is probably half a geography or history lesson in an average 5th-grade Palestinian classroom, where children will look at maps of Palestine incorporating the whole of Israel and be taught that this land is theirs by whatever means.
Fifteen minutes is probably as long as the average Palestinian child will spend watching enlightening advertisements on Palestinian Authority television showing an earth thirsting for their blood.
Fifteen minutes is as long as it takes to watch two articulate 10-year-old girls interviewed on television explaining that their aspirations are not to see the world or become doctors, but to follow in the footsteps of more than 150 before them who have succeeded in taking the lives of more than a 1,000 innocent Israelis.
Fifteen minutes is probably as long as it takes the average Palestinian farmer to go just a little out of his way because a sovereign state has now been forced to build a security barrier in an attempt to stop the infiltration of the attackers of its citizens.
Fifteen minutes is about as long as it took for that United Nations kangaroo court in The Hague to hand down its one-sided verdict on that barrier.
Fifteen minutes is about all it takes for Kofi Annan to crawl out of the UN building to utter his endlessly useless platitudes, in which deliberate acts of terrorism, aimed at killing and maiming scores of innocent people, are exactly the same as self-defense.
Fifteen minutes is about all it took for Pink Floyd's Roger Waters to go through passport control at Tel Aviv's airport in June 2006. Armed with spray paint, this aging rocker made his first stop at the security barrier, where it probably took journalists no more than 15 minutes to record Waters wallowing in sanctimonious drivel about such "a horrific edifice" before spraying it with a line from the title song of The Wall - "No thought control."

There was no thought of Waters spending 15 minutes with an Israeli teenage fan who might have been saved by a completed barrier, but who can not attend Waters's concerts. After years of plastic surgery, dozens of operations and immense physical and mental trauma, he still dreams of playing football again and making his parents proud by going to university.
Fifteen seconds is probably all it took for America's founding fathers, so eloquently referred to in Rice's address, to turn in their graves. Their decomposed bones must have rattled with indignation at being compared to Yasser Arafat, and at the suggestion that the PA has anything similar to the agenda that has, in just over 200 years, produced the mightiest nation on earth. That nation, in turn, gave the world not only the true meaning of freedom and democracy, but has condemned intolerance, discrimination and persecution.  
Maybe Condoleezza, in her recent summer of reading, missed the following words spoken by Thomas Jefferson about the founding father of her nation: "His integrity was the most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known. He was, indeed, in every sense of the word, a wise, a good, and a great man."  
Come off it, Condoleezza. You had to have winced reading out some of the diatribe in that speech you delivered, which, in short, apologized and lauded terrorism.
"The Palestinians are some of the most talented, best educated and hardest working people in the Middle East. What they need more than anything are opportunities to prosper."

I see a little confusion here and I think you will find that such superlatives belong to Israel, which has, in 60 years, made the desert bloom and produced innovative ideas in science, medicine and technology that have reached every corner of the globe.
Israel hasn't hung around UN warehouses for the last 58 years waiting for handouts, or bleating like sheep to the world press that their poverty, traumatized children and inept infrastructure is all another country's fault. They didn?t wait for opportunities to prosper; they created them and they inspired their children with self-worth and belief, not in some useless death.
The Palestinians certainly deserve a better life, certainly not one of "humiliation," but there is a need to recognize that the humiliation is of their own doing, and they are the only ones who can insist on an end to it.
Frankly, my dear Condoleezza, to quote another very Southern Lady, maybe the time to think about that is not tomorrow.