Interview with Adi Dagan

Can you tell me about your background, how you became active?

I grew up in a fairly left-wing home. As a child I always went to demonstrations with my parents and we always talked about current events at home. It always interested me. But I think that I became really active in the past three or four years.

What made you want to be involved?

Three years ago I lived in Jerusalem. I was living in the city center then, when the intifada1 began, and there were many bombings close to my house. It was really scary. I was fed up with sitting at home and watching television and getting mad. I wanted to do something active to change the situation.

Had you been active in any organization before then?

A little bit, but not regularly. I would go to demonstrations or try to join groups here and there - at the university (my BA is in psychology and my Masters is in History) - but nothing regular, only sporadically.

What do you do now?

Currently I am the Coalition of Women for Peace's2 media coordinator. In addition to that, I'm very active in Machsom Watch,3 and I am their spokeswoman.

Can you tell me about both, how did you come to join them?

Chronologically speaking, three years ago I realized that I wanted to become active, so I joined Machsom Watch in Jerusalem. I started going to Kalandia checkpoint4 every week. After about a year of this activity, the women - we were a smaller group at the time - asked me to be the group's spokesperson. We wanted to reach the public with all the materials we were gathering and with our documentation of what was happening at the checkpoints.5 This is Machsom Watch's goal, and one of the main methods of accomplishing that is using the media. So I started to do that. I also increasingly felt this was where I wanted to spend all my time working and not to have to work in one place and volunteer someplace else. That's how I came to work at Coalition of Women for Peace. My job has two components: the first is performing spokesperson duties for the joint body. The Coalition has nine organizations but there's the joint body of the Coalition's activities, its projects, messages, and campaigns. The second is supporting each of the nine organizations' communications work.

What do you do in Machsom Watch, at Kalandia checkpoint for instance?

Our main aim is to document the checkpoints and what happens there and the breach of human rights. We see their presence as a breach of human rights because they prevent Palestinians from traveling in the regions where they live - I'm referring to the internal checkpoints and not the few lone checkpoints between Israel and the Territories. Our main objective is to document and bring material to the Israeli public and the world and to say: here's what the Occupation looks like and these are the checkpoints. We have other aims besides the main objective; we believe that when we stand at checkpoints our presence there scales down the abuse or human rights' violations to a certain extent. It doesn't transform the reality into something completely different, but it has some impact. Another aim is to meet the Palestinians at the checkpoints. For Palestinians it means encountering a different Israeli - meaning not the settlers6 and soldiers they are familiar with - but people who really aspire to achieve peace. That's the kind of activity we do.

Kalandia is a very large checkpoint between Palestinian North Jerusalem7 and Ramallah.8 It's on the main road, in the middle of an urban sequence of neighborhoods, such as Beit Hanina, A-Ram, merging into Kalandia, Samira Mis,9 Ramallah; in the middle of it runs a main road and the checkpoint. Everything there is changing now as a result of the reality of the wall.10 When we arrived there four years ago it was a major junction between Jerusalem and Ramallah and in the middle of it stood the checkpoint. People from all over the southern West Bank,11 Bethlehem12 and Hebron13 traveled to Ramallah, passing through Kalandia, or traveling from Ramallah to Jerusalem through Kalandia. It's a very central throughway.

The reality of the wall is very complicated because it is constructed on the municipal borders of Jerusalem that were defined in '67,14 annexing East Jerusalem. It cuts off A-Ram from Ramallah and severs Ramallah from Jerusalem. So it isn't all that clear, an underground passage and a huge terminal might be built to replace the checkpoint, but it isn't clear. The current situation - the checkpoint - is far better than what is going to happen with the wall.

What is the current situation at the checkpoint?

What we witness in general at the checkpoints, at Kalandia checkpoint specifically, is that fewer and fewer people are able to pass, and fewer and fewer people are even trying. Carving the West Bank into very small cantons and restricting travel between them is a trend that is only getting stronger, so in Machsom Watch we don't focus on the issue of checkpoints but rather on the larger issue of travel restrictions,15 along with the closure16 and travel permit policies.17 Part of that issue is also the wall.

Can you talk about your experience monitoring checkpoints?

I just want to say that I stopped going to checkpoints because I just couldn't take it anymore. I did it for two years and it became unbearable. It was mainly a feeling of being crushed, as though someone were stepping on you. It was a sense of a lack of control over life, of someone taking your life away from you, just taking it away, a very bad feeling of helplessness and identifying with the people who need to cross the checkpoint then. Young soldiers stand there and they decide who passes and who doesn't. It feels very bad. After two years of seeing that I think that rather than improving, the situation is only getting worse. I couldn't bear it any longer, now I'm dedicating my experience in the field to the issue of the media because I hope maybe that will be successful.

Can you tell me about a certain event that affected you personally?

Certainly. At the end of March 2003 I arrived at Kalandia checkpoint with another woman from Machsom Watch and a child was shot there. The soldiers shot a child, killing him; we were there when it happened.18 That was very, very, very traumatic and it was very difficult for me to return there afterwards. I kept imagining it happening all over again. Every soldier seemed potentially capable of killing a child. The tension was horrible. There was also the feeling that we hadn't managed to prevent it. That was difficult to deal with.

How do you think your work with Machsom Watch promotes peace?

My standing at checkpoints doesn't directly further peace, but there are different stages involved in the process. Currently the groups I'm involved with and the kind of work I do oppose the Occupation. We haven't yet reached the stage of working towards peace. Working towards peace is a crucial stage which I believe must take place. Our standing at checkpoints and documenting is meant to convince the Israeli public that it's in an undesirable situation that is only leading us farther away from a solution, that we shouldn't be there, and that maybe later on there will be an agreement.

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There's the matter of meeting Palestinian people there and that is a very intense encounter that draws us closer and that is significant. One of the reasons that I went to checkpoints for two years was my desire to stop referring to the Palestinians as "the other" and to build relationships with individual people. In today's state of affairs it's so easy to turn people into the collective "they" and to believe that all this is taking place somewhere else when actually everything is very close by. We have to continuously keep in mind that it's not something that's taking place far away from here. It's happening to people like us. We can't think about it in abstract terms.

Did any relationships develop between you and Palestinian people at the checkpoints?

Sure, there are women [Israeli activists] who have been going to the same checkpoints for the past four years. They get to know lots of people who live there and pass through there, exchanging phone numbers. People call to tell them about a problem and they try to help them from home. There are also just plain friendships. If somebody doesn't show up then people ask about her.

What kind of relationships, if any, develop with the soldiers?

We get to know them or recognize them, too, and that's also a matter of personal preference. As an organization, our approach towards soldiers is very businesslike; it is neither embracing nor hostile. Dialogue with them concerns what happened during that day, what the [army's] procedures are. We're a third element at the checkpoint so we don't identify ourselves with the army. We walk a thin line with the soldiers and with the army in general because there are all sort of different interests stemming from different concerns that need to be balanced. That's very problematic.

Can you say more about Machsom Watch's relationship with the Israeli army?

From the army's perspective our presence isn't so comfortable for them because we publish stories that maybe they would prefer people not know about.19 On the other hand, they use us. They claim that because they allow us to be there that shows they support our work. That's a little like us being their fig leaf, and they can then claim that there's a human rights organization basically saying that things are alright. We don't want to cooperate [with the army] because we oppose the policies that the army is implementing, yet we do turn to them and submit complaints. There is ongoing dialogue with them and we have to be careful not to venture to places where, politically speaking, we don't want to find ourselves. There are many forces involved in the matter and it isn't simple. We also have many arguments in Machsom Watch regarding how the relations should be.

How do you think you are perceived by the soldiers at the checkpoint?

In general it's not that pleasant for them, just like it wouldn't be pleasant for anybody in a situation where people stand observing their actions, writing everything down and also approaching them, asking questions and occasionally making comments. In general, that's not exactly what they would like from us! It varies, it varies in that our presence is occasionally actually pleasant for them and they even say things like, "Good thing you're here." They like to tell us what's on their minds and they tell us about how hard it is for them. There are those who hate us, often they are settlers - civilians - but also some in uniform, and we simply drive them mad. They can't tolerate the presence of Israelis who have a stance so opposed to theirs. And there's the majority, which is indifferent. They aren't interested in anything because of the numb state they are in; they just aren't interested.

The army officially permits our presence at checkpoints-- I mean the high ranks do. The soldiers in the field continuously try to get rid of us. They say, "[This is] a closed military zone, you can't be here, move away, move over there, don't speak to them." But we have permission from the high ranks. Sometimes they allow our presence there because even they understand that they won't be able to get rid of us and that if they do, there will be a heave price to pay in terms of publicity that won't serve them well.

How do you relate to the question in general of security and the checkpoints?

For instance, if at checkpoints people were checked for bombs or whatever and then allowed to continue like here at the entrance to a mall, then it would be less of a problem, and maybe we [Machsom Watch] wouldn't have to come to the checkpoints at all. But after you come there you understand that that's not what takes place at all. There is a very minimal and arbitrary physical inspection, which at some checkpoints doesn't even take place. A person's ID card is inspected and if they come from a certain place and aren't supposed to be outside their allotted living area, they can't pass.20 That's how it is. Men between the age of sixteen and twenty-five need a permit to pass through the checkpoint, for example. I'm talking about scores of checkpoints, and the meaning is that they can't really leave their houses to go to the city nearby or anywhere. It paralyzes their lives.

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That's what brought us to the conclusion that checkpoints mostly don't serve security needs. Again, I'm referring to the internal checkpoints. Now even if the checkpoints do fulfill security needs in some way, as the army claims, there are things known to all of us, including the fact that Palestinians who go to apply for a permit at the DCO [liaison office] are often pressured to become collaborators.21 It's a widely known fact; it's really not something that we discovered. "Come help us out and in return you'll get a permit for your child to go to the hospital." So there are many ways in which the checkpoints are used indirectly for security needs.

The matter of “proportionality” came up in the appeal to the High Court of Justice in the case of the wall; let me explain. It means we compare how much the population is harmed to the security benefit. For instance, the High Court of Justice ruled that [some parts] of the wall must be moved because its harm is too extensive [to the Palestinian population]. In relation to the checkpoints, you could claim Palestinian men shouldn't leave their homes at all, and that will contribute to Israelis' security. Maybe it will, but there are things that cannot be done according to international law, and the checkpoints are a violation of international law.

I think we all have our red lines for what we are prepared to let the army do for the sake of security. We could also bomb the cities and be done with it! So the issue is that it seems to be a total imbalance, and to a certain extent, a lie. I say a lie because there aren't physical searches at the checkpoints; rather, the checkpoints pen people into all sorts of areas. Why is this done? That's what a military occupation looks like, that's what control looks like. It states who's in charge; the Israeli army is in charge and that's the situation and "you" must accept that, "you" must let go of your aspirations, we're the strong side and that's the story.

Did the situation at the checkpoints come as a surprise to you?

Yes, I mean I really understand it now but at first I kept learning something new about the Occupation22 and how the system works, and also about the large bureaucracy with the matter of permits. It's complicated on purpose and there are many types of permits; orders are changed on a daily basis regarding who is allowed to pass and who isn't. At first I was amazed at the discovery of these mechanisms.

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I don't think that I ever thought that the checkpoints were a security measure, because as I said this was at a time when all the bombings in Jerusalem were taking place five minutes away from my house, and the last thing I felt was secure. I truly believe that the issue of security is symptomatic, meaning that it's superficial and that one must take a profound look in order to view the deeper issues. I think that if we remain at the level of security we won't ever resolve this conflict.

How did you feel the first time you went to a checkpoint with Machsom Watch?

The first time I went to a checkpoint was during Passover.23 During the Jewish holidays, there is always a closure imposed and nobody passes through checkpoints. We went to Kalandia and it was empty; there was nobody there. On one hand, in terms of it being my first time, maybe it was a more gradual introduction, but I did see the physical environment. I felt as though I'd arrived in India, in the third world. It looked so bad-- so dirty, so neglected-- with barbed wire fences and mud. I remember that shocked me even without the presence of people there. When I came back a week later it was full of people and it was overwhelming-- lots of people, children, women and men and taxis and stalls with vendors and it was, wow! It flooded me and for the first months I went to the checkpoint when I came home I couldn't stop thinking about it for hours, I kept recalling the images. I couldn't fall asleep. It was emotionally flooding, the visual images. It is initially very overwhelming. You get accustomed to it. It's amazing how you get used to anything! That's just the way it is, when something is new it is visible and when you get used to it you start to pay attention to different impressions than from that first day. At first it was as though a spaceship transported me to a completely different world that is located fifteen minutes away from my house. This place follows different rules and has a different language, but the encounter with Palestinians was amazing. I had so many conversations with people; I learned so much about what happens there. It's really amazing.

Do you think Israelis are aware of the situation at the checkpoints?

No. Maybe more today, in part thanks to Machsom Watch, I think. But no, in general, we say that you have to be there in order to comprehend. We explain what's going on to people who are distanced from it all. We try to bring people along because when people go there I think they grasp that there is a problem and that the checkpoints aren't a 100% solution. People generally didn't understand what the problem is, where things are taking place or why; I think that today when you mention checkpoints in Israel people know something about it and they aren't comfortable with it, they know it's problematic. The average Israeli still doesn't understand it in full, but whoever is frequently there, sees it.

Why are there only women in Machsom Watch?

There was an understanding that the presence of a male third party at a checkpoint could achieve the opposite of what we wanted to, meaning adding tension to our encounter, which is also complex, as I described. Also, because [Israeli] men also get called for reserve service, meaning that there's a chance they were also involved in this type of reserves service as soliders, they may identify with the soldiers. I'm certain that if there were men in Machsom Watch [our work] would have ended long ago. I'm sure the army wouldn't allow it because of the tension and violence. I'm sure that if I were a man I would have been beaten up by soldiers at the checkpoints by now because there is a lot of stress and anger. Those are the practicalities, but I think that besides that we like being part of an organization that belongs only to women. It gives us more power and allows us to do the things we want to. I think that in mixed organizations men are often the ones who become the decision makers and determine things and women are pushed aside. I feel that I have a better sense of partnership and equality.

What is your approach as women? I know there are women who come as mothers of soldiers and as maternal figures. How did you approach it? How do others?

We adopt a businesslike approach in order to understand the situation and to receive information. As an organization we don't have a common approach to the issue of military service in the Occupied Territories. Obviously every woman has her own personal style, but the organization continuously attempts to manage the manner of activity so as not to become aggressive towards the soldiers, but not embrace them either - a kind of neutrality. We don't call upon them to refuse to serve,24 nor do we strengthen them in their "national mission."

Personally, it's hard for me -- standing at checkpoints I got very irritated at the soldiers! I know it doesn't serve the purpose; it doesn't serve anything, but we are human beings and it's difficult because of the frustration that there is a person who tells people not to pass or to wait, detaining them or worse things than I've described. Again, I have nothing personal against the soldiers but that's the situation. It's also our claim that in such a situation you and I would become very inhumane and immoral. I don't think there's anything wrong with the soldiers as soldiers but rather that the situation is wrong.

Can you tell me about a confrontation you had with a soldier?

I've had many, though I don't know whether confrontation is the right term - we argue over people being detained for long periods at the checkpoints. There was one time when one soldier wanted all the people who were standing and waiting at the checkpoint to move, I don't know, maybe two hundred meters back, and wait there. The people didn't really feel like moving back. They couldn't really understand what he wanted and ultimately they wanted to stay close by in order to hear the soldier who would call to them that it was their turn. So then he decided to punish them and closed the checkpoint completely until they moved. I found myself not quite attempting to convince him, but maybe more yelling at him, "What are you doing, why are you punishing these people? Stop it immediately." It got to the point where he fired his gun in the air. That was very stressful. Of course he couldn't close the checkpoint, and his commander came and reopened it. It's hard to watch when a person has a personal ambition like that.

What are your goals as media coordinator?

As spokeswoman - I'm talking about Machsom Watch still - that's really a difficult question. I think that initially it was very clear to me that I wanted the international audiences and the Israeli public to know that that the checkpoints aren't a security measure but rather a form of collective punishment, an infringement of human rights. Today I'm more skeptical regarding the public, especially the Israeli public. I think that we succeeded very nicely in reaching the international audiences and received a lot of coverage, but in general I see that making the Israeli public take an interest in what happens on the Palestinian side isn't working that well…I'm debating the matter. There's another approach that's gaining momentum: showing the effects of the checkpoints and the Occupation on soldiers and on the army, showing the extent of its harm to our side. Perhaps this is an effective approach but it doesn't really appeal to me; however I see that it's something the press is always interested in.

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The press is always interested if I bring them a story involving a soldier at a checkpoint, a soldier who fired [his gun], injured, or abused [Palestinians]. If there is a soldier involved they are interested. If I tell them that there's been a closure in Nablus25 for a month, or something general like that, because closure is so arbitrary, they are less interested in that. Frankly I'm indecisive; I'm not sure what our objectives are. There is an approach that says we should try to change the [Israeli] concept that we have no choice but to [continue the Occupation], but what the objectives are is a question that hasn't really got an answer currently.

Do you have a specific strategy concerning the Israeli audience?

Not really. We've tried all different approaches; some are pushing for discussing the harm to Israeli society and some want us to present the damage to the Palestinians. We're a large organization and there are many women and many different voices. It's like a choir that sings in many parts, it isn't that focused.

What successes do you see regarding international audiences?

Again, I am usually in touch with the press and ever since I've been in this position, foreign journalists join us at least twice a week at the checkpoints. My estimate is that the checkpoint story has coverage all over Europe, the United States, and I recall journalists from places such as Australia, South Africa, and Brazil. We're told that people hear and know about it and that it receives a lot of coverage.

What do you hope will happen in the future?

Well, the optimal situation would be that it would bring countries to apply pressure on Israel to enter negotiations, to withdraw from the Territories,26 and to do what it takes to make these things happen. After four years I'm pretty skeptical. I'm not sure it'll happen, but we do what we can.

I’d like to talk about the Coalition of Women for Peace; how does the connection between the organizations’ work in the Coalition?

A coalition is more intricate because there are many voices, many approaches, and many directions. All in all, I think it's working nicely and that the common denominator is very large. A joint organization strengthens the individual organizations, especially the smaller and perhaps more active ones, and that strengthens joint activities. What we also try to do in the Coalition is to strengthen the groups - the organizations - and also to use all the organizations' resources for the joint work.

What are the drawbacks to the way you currently operate?

The issue of strategy, what the goals are. I think you were there on the day when we talked about the media campaign, I really didn't think that up myself; I was at a media workshop and that was raised. They really stressed the issue of strategy, of naming your objectives and choosing activities accordingly, and not doing scattered activities hoping that they will have some impact. It's even more difficult at the Coalition because every organization has a different emphasis. Sometimes there are issues that are important for women from Machsom Watch that women from New Profile aren't interested in, and vice versa. So there needs to be a shared, yet focused statement.

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It's also difficult finding a statement the Israeli public will be able to relate to. There is constantly tension between what we really think - our most profound truths - and what the public is able to grasp and digest. I think what we lack is strategy, as well as a better connection with the Israeli public. That's a difficult matter because we're a radical organization that is very distant from the consensus. The million dollar question is how to relate - how to influence people and not alienate ourselves - without deterring people. There is the sense of being perceived as an out-of-touch minority.

Israeli society is so diverse. The question of which connections and links can be made to bring people to relate to the issues is a very difficult one.

Which specific roles can women play in a peace process?

I think that women, drawing on feminist approaches - not necessarily every woman by default - contribute to solutions that aren't based on force, where the strong side imposes its will, but rather with a more equality-based approach. addressing the other side's needs. [This approach] doesn't just focus on how I can convince the other side to relinquish those needs. It's an approach that views a range of aspects and not just security, territory, things like that; it asks rather what the implications [of a solution] would be on other aspects of life.

You have been active in the project of tours of the Separation Barrier. Can you tell me about that?

It's a project run by the Coalition of Women for Peace that invites the public to meet the wall. We have a very special, successful approach, and also a very unusual one for left-wing organizations. It is that we provide people with information - information we deem important, and our position is being opposed to the wall and we don't hide anything. We also give people a chance to discuss what they think and to cope, process what they previously thought vis-à-vis having visited the wall - how it contrasts or doesn't.

The approach is true dialogue; you know, when you say dialogue everyone imagines harmony, hearing the same views and emerging alike, and that's not the way it is. In my opinion it's a fantastic opportunity. I stand in front of a group and I can tell them what I think, I can listen to what they think, and when they leave maybe something inside them will change but thanks to the respect and understanding. They won't leave the tour thinking as I do, but maybe in some slight way I'll succeed in influencing them or undermining what they thought prior to that, and make them think more critically and differently. I really love this project. I think it's very successful and has proven to be successful because people are very pleased with the tours and they are also people who aren't convinced, who don't share our opinions. People come from all over. They are pleased with the information they receive, from the reality they don't know and didn't recognize earlier, and from the chance to discuss things.

Who comes to the tours?

People hear about it from other people and groups come. We've had high school classes -of course they don't come through the Ministry of Education or the principal. Some teacher heard about it and decided that in the course of a three-day seminar in Jerusalem, studying the Holocaust,27 she'd get in a tour of the wall. That's a true story. Those poor kids came straight from Yad Vashem28 to the wall. But there were youth movements, such as Beitar,29 a right-wing youth movement with kids from Hebron [Jewish settler children], we've had groups from kibbutzes.30 Now we're beginning a series of tours for students in Jerusalem, together with Hacampus lo Shotek [The Campus Will not Stay Silent] and Ta'ayush31 to take tours from the university to a neighborhood in Jerusalem where there's a wall, such as A-Ram or Abu Dis.32 There are people who sign up on their own, and we gather a group of people and take them.

Why would groups like Beitar bring kids to the tour of the Separation Barrier?

An interesting question. The tour with Beitar was in Lod.33 We give tours in Lod and Ramle34 because there are separation walls there too. I don't know, there must have been a very open counselor there. I don't think that morality belongs only to the left-wing. There are thoughtful and moral people on the other side too [the right-wing]. I think it's nice that people from all over seek information that they aren't receiving any other way. The atmosphere during the tours is that every person will do whatever they want with the information and take it where they want to and not be brainwashed or anything. I think that people think it contributes to their thinking regardless of their opinions. There were youths that said they wanted to volunteer in Lod and assist in Arab neighborhoods! It goes to show that anything is possible, that this is really the right approach. It wasn't easy. We had a Palestinian guide from Lod and he had a difficult encounter with the children, but there's much to be gained.

Who do you most want to take on a tour of the Separation Barrier in Jerusalem?

Actually, from the Israelis - anybody. We had a preliminary tour, just us tour guides in Jerusalem and my immediate response after was that I wanted my family to see it, or my friends, meaning people who mean a lot to me, so that they could understand what I was talking about. But I'm glad to see any group from the Israeli public. We’ve discovered that people's political opinions don't predict how they will behave during a tour or what will come up, because it raises very profound issues of identity, separation and security, and all sorts of issues that aren't only relevant for the Center or the right-wing, but for all Israelis. That's why the tours I guide with Israelis are fascinating, interesting, and important. It's important for me that people from abroad know about the wall but it's less urgent for me.

Can you give an example of a group you presumed would react a certain way and that surprised you?

The kid from Beitar who said, "I want to volunteer here and help." That was something we never expected to happen. There are people from the left-wing who suddenly say, "Yes, but we need a wall against suicide bombings" or such things. We've learned there's no way to predict certain responses and that there's a wide range of responses.

My approach is not to argue. My approach is to challenge [people's previous perceptions]. I talk about the misery it causes the Palestinians; on the political level I ask them where they think [building the wall] is leading, what kind of reality is being created here for us all, which is very important I think. Also on the level of security and the solutions, is this really a good or effective solution? I try to examine all these questions and hope that part of that will reach people. The last hour of the tour is a discussion group. Often this type of reaction will come up during the group's discussion and then the group responds. People talk amongst themselves and I'm merely a facilitatorI enabling the process, but at this point I don't participate. People don't yell but rather they articulate very painful and intense experiences and really talk to one another. In mixed groups, say a group of Jewish Israelis and Palestinians, the dialogue is very powerful.

What would you like to see happen after people go home from the tours?

As I said, we believe that people can shift their opinions a little. A person who's completely opposed to the wall may become active after the tour. Somebody who didn't know a thing about the wall knows a little bit more, and when they see it on television they will be able to analyze things according to the information they received. We've had groups of right-wing people and during the tour they face the wall's price, which simply cannot be ignored. We aim to make people think beyond and undermine the banal concepts of brainwashing and what people hear from the media concerning these issues.

Do you have any doubts regarding the things you do?

My main doubts concern how effective all this is; how much of a chance this has of being influential, whether it's pointless - maybe what we're doing is nothing more than a drop in the sea. But I tell myself that as long as I live here, this is my way of living here. This is my way of coping with the situation and influencing it. I can't stand on the sidelines or ignore what's happening. There are occasional moments of hope, but not many!

How does your family react to what you do?

They support me and are very proud of what I do. They don't necessarily agree with all the things I say, but they are very much in favor of my being involved and active. They view it as a positive thing.

How does the conflict affect your life?

It generally affects it for the worse because I find myself telling myself that I can't believe that this is the state of our lives, that these are the things we must occupy ourselves with. Enough! I want to live in a normal place where people can busy themselves with more positive tasks, like creative initiatives and things that feed the soul and mind. I feel like we are involved in such a primitive - I hate the term - conflict, a blood feud over land. I don't share those sentiments; that's so remote from the way I want to live. Sometimes I just can't believe that this is how I'm spending my time; I truly believe that this won't occupy me for the rest of my life. But who knows; I know many women who work with me who are fifty or sixty years-old and they've been doing this for thirty years.

On the other hand I see the positive aspects the conflict has on me. I think it forces me to make a huge effort and stimulates creativity and other things, and that's also important to me. We are truly dealing with life and death situations - human rights and vastly important issues. I feel that I'm lucky to be able to take part in it and that I'm not completely helpless. We call it empowerment in our field. I'm discovering things about myself that maybe I wouldn't have in other circumstances.

How do you view peace?

That's a very difficult question. I think that the first stage is ending the Occupation in the Territories and then some sort of self-determination and liberation for the Palestinians in the Territories. But I don't think that can be the end of the process. I view peace as being a confederation or cooperation so that neither side exploits the other, and to avoid us resuming control in an indirect way. This is so that all people will be able to live here and feel secure and be free and enjoy equality. I think that these elements are indispensable; without them we will remain at the level of empty slogans. That's why I feel that we're light years away from peace.

What will the region look like when there is peace?

According to my vision of what peace is, it gets very complicated to even define [Israel]. If there is genuine peace with the Palestinians and with the neighboring countries then it will resemble Europe, and people from all over will immigrate to the region. It's a known fact that after the peace accords were signed with Jordan, Jordanians crossed over at the Dead Sea, it drew illegal workers here because they can earn more here. I can imagine that if there are more or less open borders, people will be able to pass freely and come here from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan. That of course undermines what [Israel] claims it wants to be - Jewish and democratic. This is why I'm skeptical about us ever achieving this kind of peace, skeptical about there being a mass aspiration here for this kind of peace. I think that the result would be that this country would lose the character it's trying to protect.

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Unfortunately, what preserves the state's character is the conflict; it is the conflict that enables people to use excuses and become entrenched in a collective identity that would be likely to melt away and diverge in a state of peace. Currently there isn't much of a collective identity; there are specific groups and sectors - Russian speakers, Arab citizens,35 Mizrachis,36 Ashkenazis37 - but the sense of besiegement and risk is something that unites these people. At checkpoints you can see a soldier who just arrived from the Ukraine; he isn't even Jewish and barely speaks a word of Hebrew yet he is yelling 'don't pass' at a Palestinian. This is a form of socialization that keeps people together here. I think that once the conflict is resolved we will have to face all the internal conflicts, and that includes such intense conflicts that who knows what will happen.

What do you view as the roots of the conflict?

I think the root of the conflict is Zionism.38 I'm very interested in this subject now, far more than the Occupation.

Are Zionism and a Jewish state important to you?

I think that before the state's establishment the goal was to create a normal state for the Jews. From that aspect Zionism served its purpose, it did create a state where Jews live as equal citizens. I think that after a certain point, after Zionism achieved the state's establishment and aliyah,39 the immigration that brought so many Jews here, and greatly reduced security risks by making peace with some of the neighboring countries, it became an obstacle for normal life here. To me living in a normal country can't include adopting apartheid and racist and religious discrimination.

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I think Zionism is an obstacle to normal life here and that's why I'm not in favor of retaining the definition of a Jewish state. I assume there can be a state with a Jewish majority; I'm not opposed to that. I'm not saying we need to get rid of the Jewish majority at any cost. I think that my aspirations have changed, and that I want this to be a normal country where equality isn't sanctioned by religion and for there not to be an ever present census - how many of them and how many of us. I feel I'm always being reminded I'm Jewish; if it isn't in the religious sense then it's in the ethnic sense and I'm very uncomfortable living this way. I want to live somewhere where nobody will care about my religion. That was also Zionism's aspiration: a normal life, people not being conscious which group they belong to, that's what really went on in the Diaspora. That's a problem. There isn't a significant difference between what is being done to Palestinians in the Territories under the Occupation to what's being done to Palestinians in Lod in terms of inequality and viewing them as people who deserve less, excluding them from "us." I don't think we can keep going on like this.

What do you think needs to change in order to change the situation?

What needs to change is the perception of "us" and "them." We need to use civic concepts, and this does happen quite often in practice. I have Arab friends and I feel we are close in terms of being Israeli. We really do live in the same place. Culturally we share a lot, but on the level of consciousness there is a very large barrier between "us" and "them." The "others" or Arab "others" - those are a perceived as a real threat. This needs to change, and I think in practice it is changing because there are many people here that are "others"; it's still very far from the current situation though. I'm aware that that's a sort of utopia.

Which international audience is the most influential in the region, and why?

That's pretty obvious I think, the United States. In many areas-- in their political and financial support of Israel. People say we're the 51st state. We're not entirely an independent country. We depend on the States for many things. It's also the largest force in the world so all the surrounding countries - Syria, Egypt, Jordan - are influenced by it. I'm not saying that Europe or other places have no impact. Unfortunately, the United States is a deciding element and we are paying the price for being their extension in the Middle East.40

Do you think the US has misconceptions regarding the conflict?

The US prioritizes Israeli interests, or alleged interests, over Palestinian interests. The US isn't blind to their interests, it doesn't ignore them, but in terms of importance they see Israel as coming first and not incidentally, since Israel also serves their interests.

Why did former peace processes fail?

I think they failed in truly addressing the other side's needs. In processes such as Oslo41 and Camp David,42 there was an attempt to gain as much as possible. We want as few Palestinians on our lands and to annex as much land as possible. We want to profit financially but not to invest anything. That's the approach, but there needs to be a win-win approach. That means I win but the other side does too, even because of the practical reason that this is how it can succeed or be sustainable. I don't think I see that in any peace process or in any leader here.

Can you give an example of an attitude that needs to change?

Yes, for example the issue of the settlement blocs. Both Likud43 and Labor44 are in favor of them, they say it is annexing only 3% of the lands, 5% of the lands, land exchange etc. But people who deal more deeply with the matter and are in the field understand that for example, Ma'ale Adumim45 or Gush Etzion46 are places that strategically speaking enable maintaining control over the entire West Bank. This is the embodiment of the power-based approach of maintaining as much as possible at the expense of the other side, hoping it'll give in and accept these terms because its situation is so terrible. I don't think that can really serve any kind of stability.

Is a two-state solution an acceptable solution according to the vision of peace you mentioned earlier?

Yes. As an initial stage I think it's pretty much the only solution that can be considered because I think that most Israelis and most Palestinians wouldn't want to live in a joint framework; it's problematic after a history of prolonged struggle and imbalance. I think that in the long term separation will be difficult to maintain, especially in such a small area that is so densely populated, and also according to my vision. Peace means cooperation and open borders and much more freedom. Take the EU,47 where people can live in any of the countries, work in any country there. I think that's the meaning of peace.


We have done our best to provide accurate, fair yet succinct footnotes to help you navigate the interviews. Our research team comprises more than 6 individuals, including Palestinians, Israelis and North Americans. Still, we recognize that these notes cannot capture the full complexity of this contested conflict. Therefore, we encourage you to seek additional sources of information, we welcome your feedback and appreciate your openness.

1. Second Intifada. Intifada is Arabic for "shaking off." This refers to the recent Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. The second intifada began in September 2000 following the breakdown of diplomatic efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is sometimes called the Al-Aqsa (Aksa or 'Aqsa) Intifada or the Armed Intifada. See also: Intifada. ^

2. Coalition of Women for Peace.

Founded in November 2000, this Israeli coalition includes both independent women and nine women's peace organizations comprising Jewish and Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. Together they promote a two-state solution, an end to militarization and occupation, equality for citizens within Israel as well as the inclusion of women in any process for peace. See the coalition’s website at


3. Machsom Watch.

(Machsom is Hebrew for "checkpoint") Founded in 2001, this Israeli nonprofit organization includes women from diverse communities across Israel that oppose Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Members monitor Israeli military checkpoints and publicly report their findings in order to protect the rights of Palestinians as they cross checkpoints and to influence public opinion. See the organization’s website at


4. (also transliterated as Qalandia) is located south of the West Bank city of Ramallah and north of Jerusalem. The Kalandia checkpoint, operated by the Israeli army, serves as a major crossing point for Palestinians between much of the northern West Bank and Jerusalem. ^

5. Checkpoints. Roadblock or military installation used by security forces to control and restrict pedestrian movement and vehicle traffic. The Israeli army makes widespread use of checkpoints in the Occupied Territories in order to control the movement of Palestinians between Palestinian cities and villages and between the Occupied Territories and Israel. They have been used on a few occasions to control some movement of Israeli settlers and Israeli citizens trying to enter Gaza and several West Bank settlements to protest Israeli disengagement from those territories. Checkpoints can be large and semi-permanent structures resembling simple basic border crossings (such as the Kalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem or the Hawara checkpoint between Nablus and Ramallah) or small, temporary impositions on roadways or outside towns or villages. The security forces at a checkpoint exercise total control over movement through the checkpoint. Depending upon the location of the checkpoint, soldiers may and often do check the identity papers of every vehicle passenger and/or pedestrian who wishes to pass through, and refuse passage to all who have not obtained permits from the Israeli military's Civil Administration in the Occupied Territories. Palestinians and Israeli observers cite frequent, if not routine, incidences of delay and harassment of Palestinian civilians at checkpoints, regardless of the status of their papers. There are currently checkpoints at the entry and exit points of every large Palestinian populated area in the West Bank, on every major road within the West Bank, and at every crossing point on the Green Line between Israel and the Occupied Territories, in addition to many smaller checkpoints within the West Bank. According to the IDF, a checkpoint is a "security mechanism to prevent the passage of terrorists from PA territory into Israel while maintaining both Israeli and Palestinian daily routine," used to "facilitate rapid passage of Palestinians while providing maximal security to Israeli citizens." For facts, figures, and maps on the web, see BBC , the Israeli NGO Machsom (checkpoint) Watch or The Palestinian Red Crescent ^

6. Settler. Refers to a Jewish Israeli living in settlements - Jewish communities in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. The settlements, established following Israel's capture of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the war of 1967, are widely recognized as illegal under international law. By and large, they receive government funding as well as military and infrastructural support, although the Likud has initiated the withdrawal of settlers from Gaza in August 2005 and from a handful of settlements in the West Bank. Population statistics of the Jewish settler population vary according to different sources. There are approximately 240,00-250,000 settlers in the Palestinian Territories with approximately 7,000-8,000 living in the Gaza Strip and the rest residing in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem). According to B'Tselem, at the end of 2002 about 58% (or 394,000) of Jerusalem's 680,400 residents lived on land annexed in 1967. Of those 394,000, 45% were Jewish and 55% Palestinians (see There are approximately 17,000 settlers living in the Golan Heights. For information on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, see the B'Tselem report at For information on the settlement population in the Golan Heights see: David Rudge. "Campaign Uses Jobs to Entice Newcomers to Golan," The Jerusalem Post, 22 June 2005, pg. 5. ^

7. Jerusalem. Known as Al Quds ("The Holy") in Arabic and Yerushalayim or Zion in Hebrew. A city located in the center of both Israel and the West Bank portion of the Occupied Territories. Home to approximately 700,000 people from all three monotheistic religions, as well as sacred sites from these faiths within close proximity, including the Western Wall, the al Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Green Line, or the 1949 cease-fire line between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, demarcates the unofficial boundary between Israel and the West Bank, and divides Jerusalem. Israel immediately declared Jerusalem as its capital in 1948, and enshrined this in its Basic Laws in 1980. Palestinians aspire to declare Jerusalem as the capital of a nascent Palestine. Following the War of 1967, Israel extended its sovereignty to the Eastern half of the city, including the Old City and the holy shrines, which were controlled by Jordan from 1948. Most countries do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over all of the city. Rather, they regard Jerusalem's status as undetermined, pending final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. See: "Jerusalem" World Encyclopedia. Philip's, 2004. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. CDL UC Berkeley. ^

8. Ramallah. Palestinian city in the West Bank, about 16 kilometers north of Jerusalem. Est. population 40,000. The population of the Ramallah District, including its surrounding 88 towns and villages is 220,000. It is headquarters to the Palestinian Authority. ^

9. Beit Hanina and Samira Mis are Palestinian neighborhoods in the north of Jerusalem within the city's municipal boundary. A-Ram and Kalandia Refugee Camp fall partly inside the municipal boundary and partly outside. ^

10. Separation Barrier. A long structure of connected concrete walls and fences that separates Israel from parts of the West Bank. It runs both along the Green Line and within the West Bank. Critics and proponents disagree over the intent behind the structure, its route, and its name. References to it include the "wall, separation wall, security fence, Apartheid Wall, separation barrier, annexation wall." Begun in 2002, its construction is still in progress. For a map of the existing structure and proposed route, please visit the B'Tselem website. Israel claims security needs necessitate its construction. Israel has modified some of the routes in response to a High Court of Justice ruling as well as in response to international pressure. Palestinians point out that the wall was built unilaterally, seizing lands recognized as illegally occupied by Israel according to international law. They also maintain that the wall steals privately-owned land, and chokes off some cities almost completely. For a thorough report: "A safety measure or a land grab?", visit the Economist, October 9, 2003 A debate about its appropriateness sprung up after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion declaring it a breach of international law. ^

11. West Bank. Geographical territory located to the west of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. It has been under Israeli military control since 1967, although certain powers and responsibilities were transferred to the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo process (see Oslo process and Areas A, B and C). The Palestinian population of the West Bank is approximately 2.4 million. In addition, there are approximately 230,000-240,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank. ^

12. Bethlehem. A city in the West Bank, about 10 kilometers south of Jerusalem. Home to the Church of the Nativity, the city is of particular significance for Christians who believe it is the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Est. population 30,000, the vast majority of whom are Palestinian. ^

13. Hebron. A Palestinian city in the West Bank, located 30 kilometers south of Jerusalem. Al-Khalil ("Friend of God") in Arabic and Khevron in Hebrew, its population is approximately 160,000, the majority of whom are Palestinian Muslims, with approximately 400 Jewish settlers living in the center of the city and an Israeli military presence. The city is home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the supposed burial site of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs. See 1929 Riots and Baruch Goldstein/Hebron Massacre. ^

14. East Jerusalem was captured and then annexed by Israel following the Six-Day/June War of 1967. For further information on East Jerusalem see B'tselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) ^

15. Mobility. While Israelis can travel freely to settlements in the West Bank and Gaza as well as to East Jerusalem, Israelis are generally barred from Palestinian population centers and Palestinians are barred from Israel by the Israeli authorities. However, both Palestinians and Israelis can apply for permits to reach one another. It is easier for Israelis and Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem with East Jerusalem ID cards to travel into the West Bank than to Palestinian population centers in Gaza. ^

16. Closures. Closures are restrictions imposed by the Israeli army by and large on Palestinians attempting to travel within areas of the West Bank, Gaza and Israel but also on a few occasions to restrict movement of Israeli settlers and civilians attempting to protest Israel's dismantling of settlements in the Gaza Strip and to a very limited degree in the West Bank. Closure often means sealing off a population center so that individuals cannot get in or out unless they have a special permit. For general information on the seizure and closure of Palestinian areas, see the "Freedom of Movement" section at B'Tselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) Also, for a brief history on the practice of closure employed by the Israeli Army, see The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group report from June 1999 entitled, "Worker's Rights….Hard Times," and specifically part V.: "Brutal Effects of the Closure on Palestinian Workers." ^

17. Travel Permits. Refers to Israeli-issued travel permits required primarily for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to travel into Israel, and at times throughout East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Israelis seeking to travel to Area A regions as delineated by the Oslo Accords, must also receive permits. For information on restrictions of movement for Palestinians, see: B'Tselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) ^

18. 15-year-old Omar Musa Matar was shot by Israeli soldiers at Kalandia checkpoint on March 28, 2003. He died from his wounds five days later. See "The 144th Child," Haaretz Magazine, April 11 2003 by Gidon Levy: and a response published in Haaretz by Dagan, an eyewitness to the shooting: ^

19. For example, see one of Machsom Watch's monthly summaries, which includes Palestinian testimonials of checkpoint experiences for that month ^

20. For information on ID checks at checkpoints see the BBC ^

21. Collaborator.

Frequently used to describe Palestinians who work for Israeli intelligence agencies in gathering information about other Palestinians. Israel often provides these Palestinians with financial compensation, travel privileges and/or protection. The reasons motivating Palestinian collaboration with Israel differ, but some Palestinians have become collaborators as a result of blackmail tactics by Israeli operatives. In several cases, Palestinian militant groups have killed Palestinians suspected of being collaborators. Many collaborators have moved to live inside Israel because of fear for their lives. See “The Phenomenon of Collaborators in Palestine.” 2001. PASSIA. 22 August 2011.


22. Occupation. The "Occupation" is used to refer to Israel's military control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. Some members of the Israeli government have referred to these territories as "disputed" rather than "occupied." See, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web site; Also, "West Bank." Britannica Student Encyclopedia. 2004. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. 17 Dec. 2004; For a dictionary that uses the term "occupied" rather than "disputed": "West Bank" A Dictionary of Contemporary World History. Jan Palmowski. Oxford University Press, 2003. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. CDL UC Berkeley. ^

23. Jewish holiday commemorating the exodus of Jews from slavery in Egypt. ^

24. Refusenik.

A term first applied to Jews who the Soviet Union barred from emigrating to Israel. In Israel today, “refusenik” applies to conscientious objectors - Israeli soldiers or reservists who refuse to serve in the Occupied Palestinian Territories or in the Israeli army altogether. For an Israeli to legally avoid military service based on the grounds of conscience or refusal, one must be granted Conscientious Objector (CO) status, which is difficult to obtain. The Refusenik movement gained popularity during the Second Intifada, after a group of Israeli reserve officers and combat soldiers drafted the Combatant's Letter in January 2002, outlining their justification for conscientious objection based on Israel’s “illegal and thus immoral” occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Since then, 627 Israelis have signed onto the letter and hundreds of Israelis have refused service in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Israel has court martialed hundreds for this decision and many refuseniks serve up to 35 days in jail. See also Shministim. See the Refusenik’s website at


25. Nablus. A Palestinian city in the northern West Bank. Est. population 132,000. ^

26. Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Also known as the Territories, “East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza,” the Occupied Territories or “Judea, Samaria and Gaza.” The term generally refers to two non-contiguous territories captured by Israel following the War of 1967, but does not usually include the Golan Heights. East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza are considered occupied by much of the international community and are treated as such by many international legal instruments. The Territories, or some part of, are slated to be the basis for an independent Palestine. Some members of the Israeli government refer to the Occupied Palestinian Territories as “disputed territory,” while certain factions in Israel consider the territory an integral part of biblical Israel and thus modern political Israel. See International Law, ‘Occupied’/ ‘Disputed’ Territory Debate” and War of 1967.


27. Holocaust.

(a Greek word meaning "sacrifice by fire") The Nazi-led persecution and murder of millions of Europeans, including six million Jews, which were around one-third of the worldwide Jewish population. Rising to power in Germany in 1933, the Nazis believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that groups such as the Jews, the Roma, the physically disabled and homosexuals were "inferior" and thus did not deserve to live. The Nazis constructed the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question," which included the annihilation of the Jews. During the time of the Holocaust, the Nazis also persecuted Communists, Socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses and others. The Holocaust officially ended with the completion of World War II in 1945. See the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website at


28. Yad Vashem. A museum in Jerusalem that commemorates the Holocaust. Yad Vashem is also a leading reference center for Holocaust studies. ^

29. Beitar.

Founded in the 1920s, Beitar is a Zionist youth movement in Israel and throughout the Jewish Diaspora. Beitar was shaped by the ideas and worldview of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and is politically affiliated with the Likud party. Some of its activities include summer camps, Israel tours and the promotion and facilitation of the official immigration of Jews to Israel. See “Youth Movements.” Jewish Virtual Library. 10 June 2011.


30. Kibbutz. A community established by and for Jews based on communal property, in which members have no private property but share the work and the profits of some collective enterprise, typically agricultural but sometimes also industrial. Initially founded in Ottoman Palestine on socialist ideals and currently located by and large in Israel, many kibbutzim (plural for kibbutz) have become privatized in the last few decades. ^

31. Ta'ayush.

(Arabic for “coexistence”) Founded in 2000 as a grassroots movement of “Israelis & Palestinians striving together to end the Israeli occupation and to achieve full civil equality through daily non-violent direct-action.” Some of its major activities include accompanying Palestinian farmers and sheep herders to their lands, supporting Palestinians in water-sanitation initiatives and other restoration activities, participating in protests of Israel’s Separation Barrier and the displacement of Palestinians from their homes, as well as raising awareness to the effects of Israel’s occupation on the Palestinian population. See the movement’s website at


32. A-Ram and Abu Dis are Palestinian neighborhoods within the municipal boundary of Jerusalem. ^

33. Lod. Known as Lod in Hebrew; al-Lydd in Arabic. It is located in central Israel, just southeast of the greater Tel-Aviv area. Lod is home to Ben Gurion Airport. ^

34. Ramle. A city in the central region of Israel. Est. population 60,000 Jewish and Palestinian Arab-Israeli inhabitants. ^

35. Palestinian Arab Citizens of Israel.

Also known as Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinian Israelis, 1948 Palestinians, or Arab Israelis. Refers to those Palestinians and their descendants who remained in the area that became the State of Israel in 1948. Most Bedouins and some Druze in Israel also consider themselves to be Palestinian Arab Israelis. Though granted Israeli citizenship, until 1966, most Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel were subjected to military rule, which restricted their movement and other civil rights. The tension in Israel between its “Jewish” and “democratic” nature has historically meant that many Palestinian Arab minority rights have been neglected. According to Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, since 1967, “The state [has] practiced systematic and institutionalized discrimination in all areas, such as land dispossession and allocation, education, language, economics, culture, and political participation.” While their standing in Israel has improved since Israel’s independence, Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel experience periodic persecution, felt strongest during the October 2000 riots in which 13 Palestinian Arab Israelis were killed (see October 2000 events). In 2009, Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel numbered 1.52 million, approximately 18-19% of the Israeli population. They live within the State of Israel, participate in government and hold Israeli citizenship, but most do not serve in the military. See Lustick, Ian S. “Palestinian Citizens of Israel.” Philip Mattar, ed. Encyclopedia of the Palestinians. New York: Facts on File, 2005; and Bligh, Alexander, ed. The Israeli Palestinians: an Arab Minority in the Jewish State. London: Frank Cass, 2003. See also the websites of the organizations Adalah and Mossawa at and


36. Mizrachi Jews.

[literal translation from Hebrew is "Easterner"] Refers to Jews of Middle Eastern origin.


37. Ashkenazi Jews. Ashkenazi Jews are of Eastern European and Yiddish-speaking origin and heritage. Along with Sephardic Jews, it is one of the two major ethno-cultural branches of Judaism. Ashkenazim and Sephardim maintain many different religio-cultural traditions. ^

38. Zionism. The belief that the Jewish people should have a national homeland, and refuge from persecution, in Israel. Supporters of this idea are called Zionists. The Zionist Movement gained momentum in Europe in the late 1800s with the First Zionist Conference in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. The movement advocated the ideology of Zionism, a national liberation ideology of the Jewish people with several strands, foremost being the establishment of a Jewish state within the biblical Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael or Zion). See ^

39. Aliyah. Hebrew for "ascent." It is often used to refer to Jewish immigration to Palestine (under Ottoman and later British mandate jurisdiction), and later to the State of Israel. The first five Aliyahs took place between 1882 and 1939, and were facilitated by various Zionist organizations. Today, making Aliyah refers to the official immigration of a Jew to Israel, giving him/her Israeli citizenship and receiving benefits ranging from financial assistance, to rental and mortgage subsidies, to income tax or customs breaks. ^

40. Dagan is referring to the notion that United States' close strategic and financial relationship with Israel in conjunction with the United States' recent actions in the Middle East (particularly in Iraq) has had an adverse affect on Israel's public image. ^

41. Oslo process. This process was unveiled with the signing of the Declaration of Principles ("DOP") by Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn in 1993, although it was preceded by an exchange of letters between Rabin and Arafat. In those letters, Israel recognized the PLO as the sole legitimate representative body of the Palestinian people and the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist in peace and security. The DOP called for a permanent settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on United Nation Resolutions 242 and 338. It also led to the creation of the Palestinian National Authority ("PA" or "PNA") as part of the 1995 Oslo Interim Agreement. Yasser Arafat became President of the PNA. A series of agreements between the Israeli government and the PNA followed. The agreements are known collectively as the Oslo Accords. The Oslo process took a serious blow with the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, and by the failure of the Camp David Accords in 2000, but ended officially with the assumption of the second intifada in September 2000. For a text of the letters and the Declaration of Principles see: or The Israeli Ministry of Foregin Affairs ^

42. Camp David. An American presidential getaway in Maryland. In the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, two significant events took place at Camp David, often referred to as Camp David I and Camp David II. At Camp David I (September 1978), Egyptian President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin reached a bilateral agreement, with assistance and pressure from American President Carter, in which Israel would return the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for recognition and peace with Egypt, thereby establishing a precedent for "land-for-peace" negotiations. The Agreement called for talks between Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Palestinian representatives to create a framework for negotiations regarding the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This goal was never met. Camp David II refers to the last Oslo Process-related meetings between Yasser Arafat, Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton in the summer of 2000 over "final status" issues such as the settlements, Jerusalem, Palestinian statehood, the rights and entitlements of Palestinian refugees and more. Negotiations broke down and no agreement was reached. The collapse of the process was followed shortly thereafter by the second intifada. ^

43. Likud Party.

(Hebrew for “union”) An Israeli political party that emerged out of the Revisionist Zionist movement, which focused on immediate Jewish settlement in the entire area of British mandate Palestine. Until recently, Likud was ideologically opposed to any territorial compromise with the Palestinians. Its first electoral victory for a majority in the Israeli parliament came in 1977. In 1978, Likud Prime Minster Menachem Begin signed a peace treaty with Egypt, which involved Israeli military and civilian withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. Begin soon after launched the War of 1982 in Lebanon. In 1991, Likud Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir headed the Israeli negotiation team at the Madrid Conference, spearheading Arab-Israeli direct negotiations. More recent Likud leaders, such as Benjamin Netanyahu, have led neo-liberalist economic measures. Dispute over Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August 2005 led Likud Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to leave the party and establish the Kadima party, which rivaled the Likud and won in the 2006 elections. Likud came into power again in 2009. See “Likud.” Knesset. 28 September 2011.; and “Likud.” 1 February 2008. YNet News. 28 September 2011.,7340,L-3498238,00.html.


44. Labor Party. Mifleget Avodah in Hebrew. One of two major political parties in Israel that tends toward the center-left of the political spectrum, it emerged from the labor Zionist movement in the 1930s. Its leaders include many of the principal founders of the State of Israel, including the first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. Founded on socialist and Zionist principles, it dominated the Israeli government until 1977. Labor became the leading Israeli political party favoring territorial compromise for peace, and was the party that first officially recognized the PLO when Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres signed the Declaration of Principles and launched the Oslo Peace Process with Yasser Arafat in 1993. ^

45. Ma'ale Adumim.

A Jewish Israeli settlement in the central West Bank, located about 7km west of Jerusalem. Est. population in 2009: 34,100.


46. Gush Etzion. The "Etzion bloc" refers to an area southwest of Jerusalem, between Bethlehem and Hebron in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, anchored by the large settlements of Efrata and Beitar Illit (a rapidly expanding ultra-orthodox settlement abutting the Green Line). The area includes 10 settlements and nearly 50,000 settlers as of 2007. The Etzion Bloc has both political and religious significance for many Israelis, being in the region of numerous biblical stories and of the machine-gunning of 15 Jewish prisoners during the 1948 War. See Settlements in Focus. 9 Feb. 2005. Americans For Peace Now. 19 June 2007 <> See also Gush Etzion. 19 June 2007 <> ^

47. European Union.