Especially after years cut off from contact with Americans by US policy to isolate Hamas, they have little grasp of US culture – or of the realities facing an American president seeking to take up their cause.This is almost too absurd for words. Other Arab countries have had full access to American culture and it hasn't helped them understand the Western mindset. Palestinian Arabs are intimately knowledgeable about the Israeli point of view but it hasn't helped them empathize with it, rather they are more likely to belittle it. For a diplomat to say such a naive statement is a scary thought indeed.
Until this gap is bridged, miscommunication and distrust will thwart progress in the region.
One part of his article, that he chalks up to such misunderstandings, is most instructive:
The Hamas official with American expertise, defending the concept of a long-term cease-fire, asserts that a hudna would allow a generation of new leaders to determine their own future and relations with Israel. I ask him why another two decades would generate any more moderation (on either side) than the past two decades. He quickly charges that time is on the side of the Palestinians, both demographically and, if no accord is reached, for acquiring a weapon of mass destruction to strike Israel.So Hamas fully expects Iran to provide them with a nuclear bomb within the next 20 years to destroy Israel.
And all that Olsen can notice from this conversation is that Hamas doesn't understand Americans!
There indeed seems to be a miscommunication. Olsen, trying so hard to make Hamas understand what Americans think, refuses to believe what a Hamas official says to him explicitly.