November 29, 2020

VIDEO: Middle Ground: A conversation between an Israeli and a Palestinian

The constant threat of terror between Israel and Palestine is an ancient matter Webster University students Hanan Rahman, a Palestinian-American, and Daniel Movitz, a Israeli-American, want to see end.

Rather than focus on the past, Movitz and Rahman give their points of view regarding solutions foreign governments have suggested to ease Israeli-Palestinian tensions, as well as address some of the problems both people face living there.

“I think this is way bigger than the two of us,” Movitz said. “But at the same time I represent Israel, you represent Palestinians at Webster, and if we can come together, maybe that’s just the start.”

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What is the role of the Israeli government?
HR: I’m always questioning myself, “What is their (Israeli government) goal?” For me, I feel like it’s self-evident. They’re just trying to kick out the Palestinians. That’s what I see.
DM: It’s terrible it has to come to that point where you’re not allowed to access that land freely. It’s because there’s a threat everywhere. And we don’t know where it’s coming from. So, if you regulate everybody, that’s going to reduce your chance of an attack.
HR: I completely agree with you. But I think in order for Israel to really reduce its chances of being attacked, it really needs to ease up. You hear stories of people just dying at checkpoints when they need to reach the hospital, which is probably a mile down from the checkpoint.
I think if they give their people due justice and give the Palestinians more freedom than what they have, I really think they won’t have as much of a threat. I went (to Israel) in 2009, and my treatment there really made me have a negative perspective. I went with my uncle and his younger kids. We got rejected (for entry into the country) and without even telling us why, they made me open up our 15 luggages. I had no food in my system; I was so weak. Then they split us up; it reminded me of Elie Wiesel’s “Night,” when he described the Nazis separating the people.
DM: That’s exactly what I thought. When you said that, I got chills and thought how terrible.
HR: I asked “Where are you taking us?” and the guard laughed and said jail. They were nice enough to put us (her family) in the same cell. There was a cell down the hall from ours where there were guys jumping on top of guys blowing kisses to my cousin who was thirteen. And for me it was survival of the fittest. I thought I might get raped, I might get killed.
DM: This was in 2009 in Israel? That’s unbelievable.
HR: I thought, “This is insane. How can they do something like that?” What they went through was crazy. My full empathy to them. But then you’re going to impose on another group of people?
DM: I’m still shocked. It’s unbelievable, and I’m so sorry you went through something like that, it’s not right. But that is the personality and persona they have to have almost. I’m not saying in your case. But in that overall personality of “You’ve gotta be hard”. That’s the kind of people who have grown up there over the past 20 or 30 years who constantly have that threat of something. You have to be resilient, and I think that’s something that is a product of having to defend. It’s a behavior that’s been developed.
HR: I understand what you’re saying. The thing is if you want things to be solved you have to learn how to tone it down a bit. American security is tough, yet they know how to (be more empathetic). For example, whenever I go through airport security, they pull me aside, they search me, which is perfectly normal, I understand. Now for the Israeli issue towards the Palestinians, if you’re going to be brutal like that, your going to install hatred in them.

What is the role of Fatah and Hamas?

HR: Obviously what Hamas is doing is wrong. Fatah worked hand in hand with Israeli government. Hamas is on other spectrum, against Israel. Now, there is reconciliation between the two. It was surprising that they did that. Obviously what Hamas is doing toward Israel is completely wrong, and they should recognize Israel as a state. But I think if Israel recognized Palestine as a state as well, it would be better. For me, it’s not only Hamas that’s the problem. And you’re always going to have enemies, no matter what. You can’t really eradicate all threats.

DM: But they don’t even recognize Israel’s right to exist. As a human being, you have the right to exist. Of course we exist there, but if you want to have peace I think that recognition is vital.

HR:  But don’t you think it goes both ways?

DM: Absolutely. I think it needs to start with the treatment of people being nicer. I think it would be a great first step.

What is the role of America? What do you think about President Obama’s suggestion to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to revert back to the pre-1967 borderlines? Netanyahu refused saying that would leave the country “indefensible” against the surrounding Arab nations.

DM: I’m standing with Netanyahu on this one. I really didn’t like Obama saying that. And that’s nothing against Palestinians. You’ve got to understand: Jewish people are not liked by many countries in that region. We have all these terrorist cells that want nothing but to wipe Jewish people and Israel off the face of the Earth.

HR:  For me, I don’t like the fact that the American government is supporting the Israeli government in regards to using that money for weapons. I really don’t like other countries interfering with problems between two groups. I think that would create more of chaos.

Two-state solution?

HR:  Maybe for some it’s good, but you have to really define what a two state solution is. Are you going to have the west bank for the Palestinians to themselves? Are you going to have checkpoints?

DM:  Where do you go from there? What do you do to really solve the problem? It kind of needs to go back where we can all sit around, have coffee, make Israel the most important thing for us and have it together.

One-state solution?

DM:  Both our blood runs very deep in that land. It’s going to take a lot of getting the wrong people out of power and putting the right people in power on both sides. Everyone’s going to have enemies and threats, but it’s the way you deal with those threats and it’s your mentality as a combined people. That’s why I’m for a one-state solution. If you divide Israel into two states, one for the Palestinians, one for the Jews, I don’t think it’s going to work. It’s going to be war because you’re separating people instead of bringing them together.

HR:  I think little by little if they instill kindness and generosity towards the people, they (Palestinians) will eventually not have this hatred toward them. If we become one state, and I had Jewish neighbors, I would never hold a grudge against them for what the Israelis at the airport did to me. We can’t change what happened in the past, but we’ve got to change what’s happening now.

What role does Webster play?

HR:  I feel like they (Webster students) are unaware. You don’t know how many students I come across everywhere who don’t know what’s going on in the Middle East. I really blame it on the media, because it’s all about celebrities or issues going on within the states. They really don’t reflect on what’s going on globally.

DM:  Even when they do, it’s not really what’s happening. They make it seem just terrible over there.

HR:  The Palestinian-Israeli issue is bad, but you know what? Its not like when you go over there that you see everyone scared and you see threats. Not at all. When you go its perfectly normal. You see Jewish Israelis talking to Palestinians.

DM:  Ignorance is not going to help. You have to inform people about what’s really going on, or they can make any kind of decision.

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