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Between 2004 and 2010, Just Vision interviewed more than 80 Palestinian and Israeli grassroots leaders. The interviews in this archive represent a fraction of the civic leaders working in the field at a particular moment in time, and aim to provide audiences access to a range of perspectives and approaches.


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Dalia Golomb

As the daughter of Eliyahu Golomb, one of the founders of the Haganah and a leader in the Zionist movement, Dalia Golomb's adolescence was heavily influenced by the presence of the Haganah, the Labor Party and Mapai. For the past eight years, Dalia has worked with Machsom Watch, an organization of Israeli women who oppose the Occupation and advocate for the right of Palestinians to move freely. Today, Dalia and a close friend from the organization co-guide tours of Palestinian villages in the West Bank, and assist with addressing various challenges several of the Palestinian residents in these villages face as a result of the Occupation. Dalia has initiated and worked on projects aimed at increasing the mobility of Palestinians on their land and connecting villages to electricity and potable water.

  • Please tell me about your background.

    I was born in Tel Aviv. My parents lived on a kibbutz and we were socialists; we ate and breathed the pioneer settlement movement1 and Haganah. As I grew up, I didn't really change my life; I continued in the spirit of settlement. I joined the youth movement,2 spent a few years on a kibbutz and later served in the Haganah. I established the first kindergarten on Kibbutz Hamadia and I really enjoyed being its first kindergarten teacher. Later, my husband and I went on a mission to the U.S. on behalf of the youth movement and Mapai. My daughter was born there, and after living in the U.S. for three years we returned to Israel and lived on the kibbutz; we left two or three years later. Every person has a biological clock inside that is set to differentiate between day and night, but mine is set for ten years - every ten years the clock cries "cuckoo" and I switch professions. This isn't something I plan, it just happens: I was a kindergarten teacher for ten years, an elementary school teacher of music and rhythmics for ten years, the Music Academy's pedagogical coordinator for ten years, a music teacher at the Methodology Center for Music at the Ministry of Education for ten years, a Feldenkrais3 teacher for ten years, and it'll be ten years for me at Machsom Watchin two years.

    • 1. By pioneer settlement movement, Golomb is referring to part of the Zionist movement that began in 1897: Jews establishing a Jewish homeland (see Zionism). Due to promises made by the British that Jews could establish a homeland in Palestine if the Allies won World War I, Jewish settlement increased during the British Mandate of Palestine and grew exponentially during Nazi rule in Germany (see Balfour Declaration and British Mandate). Jewish settlement and the purchase and/or appropriation of previously-held Palestinian Arab land was met with opposition by much of the local Palestinian population and surrounding Arab states (for an example, see 1936-1939 Arab Revolts/Riots).
    • 2. The youth movement refers to the many Zionist youth movements in Europe and other places in the world in the early 20th century. See online: "Youth Movements." Jewish Virtual Library. 2010. 10 June 2011 http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/Youth.html
    • 3. The Feldenkrais movement focuses on the relationship between movement and thought to increase mental awareness and creativity. See http://www.feldenkrais.com/ 

  • Please tell me about your family and your father, Eliyahu Golomb.

    Our house was a hub of [public] activity. There was hardly any privacy at home and everything was dedicated to building [and settling] the land. My father and his brother in-law, Dov Hoz, established the Haganah. Dov Hoz, my father and Moshe Sharret grew up together and went to the same high school - they were its first graduating class - were the best of friends, and they became family. Moshe Sharett had two sisters: one married Dov Hoz and the second married Eliyahu Golomb. Ussishkin once remarked that they had "a real family business," because the three of them were very active in settling the land, in the Haganah, in the labor union - and all of that was evident in our house. We lived with my grandmother and our house was the center for all the grandchildren and children - it was a very lively place. For formality's sake, my father kept an office at the Zionist General Council, but he ran most of his affairs from home - they had their meetings at our house and everything. We breathed it like it was air. I was a supporter of Mapai and I was completely blind, even though we had personal relationships with Arabs. I remember that on the second independence day there were fireworks for the very first time, and it was an extraordinary experience. Stupidly, naively, I took Mahmoud, a friend of the family, to the celebration. I never imagined that for him it was Nakba. Can you imagine? There was so much brainwashing then and some people are still brainwashed today.

  • When you say brainwashing, what are you referring to?

    I was raised in the pioneering youth movement which covered up the fact that we forced the Arabs off their lands. We felt like we were pioneers making the desert bloom and we were taught to defend ourselves from the Arabs who "disturbed" our pioneering efforts. We didn't investigate their motives or their disappearance from the lands we were granted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). Now, I realize that the JNF bought lands from Arab landowners who lived in Arab countries - sharecroppers who had lived on these lands and who had made a living from it. In other words, the Arabs were forced away, and as pioneers we didn't know about that. That's the brainwashing part. Many Israelis still feel the way I did when I was part of the youth movement, and they still don't see.

  • You've been active in Machsom Watch for eight years. How did you get involved in this work?

    It was a very gradual process. As a music teacher for the Ministry of Education, I worked with the Supervisor for Music Education and Arab [Israeli] music teachers. We published a booklet of songs in Hebrew and Arabic to use in schools, so Jews could learn songs in Arabic and Arabs could learn songs in Hebrew. The Arab Supervisor for Music Education from the Ministry of Education and I would meet at my house, and he would translate the songs into Hebrew and I would rhyme the songs. Then we would put them together in a booklet. For me, the introduction to these songs was amazing - it sent me back to the days of the youth movement. These songs expressed love for the land, flags and independence, and I felt it was as though two men had fallen for the same woman. We are two nations that are in love with Eretz Israel. For me, that was the turning point, and from there this process gradually progressed. At the end of this process, I decided to study Arabic so I joined a group from Tel Aviv that met a total of four times - every two weeks in Tira - to learn Arabic.1 We would stay at people's houses from Wednesday to Saturday night. It was unforgettable. That's where I met Daphna Banai, Miki Fischer and Shelly, who established Machsom Watch in Tel Aviv. That was in 2003, two years after Machsom Watch Jerusalem was established. I got involved to lend a hand, and I saw that in terms of organization, things were terrible. I was experienced with organizing because I had organized continuing education programs for music teachers. I said, "I'd like to try and help organize the schedule." I did just that for two years and we grew from eighty to four hundred. What's nice about Machsom Watch is what you know about grassroots organizations. There is criticism about this too, because in grassroots organizations it can be difficult to carry out decisions, to even make decisions, because there is no hierarchy; but, I find this to be advantageous. Under our banner - women who are against the Occupation and for human rights - each woman can discover her own niche, and I've found one or two for me in my time. In the same way that I've made professional changes every ten years, at Machsom Watch I change projects every ten years. Whenever I feel like I'm through with one thing, I move on to the next. It started with organizing the schedule of women going to checkpoints. I used to sit at the computer all day long; it was like a job. Then Michael Sfard came to talk to us and said, "You monitor checkpoints and that's great, but I think you should also go to military courts to see how trials are held against Palestinians in military courthouses. It's incredible." After trying that out, even though I felt like I wasn't cut out for that, I wrote the reports until I felt like I had seen enough. Then I decided to let someone else do this, and I left that project. The matter of tours came up and Anat got involved and started a wonderful joint program with a communications and management college for students all over the country. Since, we have had several tours for students.

    • 1. Jewish Israelis are not required to learn Arabic in school and, therefore, many do not know how to speak it. 

  • Please tell me about the tours and their objective.

    Our organization's objective - and the tours are part of that objective - is to influence public opinion against the Occupation. Due to the Occupation, Palestinians in the West Bank, live under military rule and Israel infringes on their basic human rights. In order to bring this harsh reality to the attention of Israelis - a reality which the media and the authorities prefer to conceal - we call on Israelis to join us for tours of the West Bank. There is nothing like seeing things for yourself. During the tours we introduce people to the checkpoints and the fences, land theft from [Palestinian] farmers, policies of intimidation and more. We leave it to people to reach the obvious moral conclusions. From my experience, there is no sense in expecting that deeply rooted views that begin in childhood and have only become deeper over time will immediately collapse because of one tour. However, we have witnessed the tours' enormous effect on participants, even people of the right-wing. If you want a measure of its success in terms of outcomes, one could say that even without any publicity our tours are increasing in number and growing in size - all by word of mouth. We started three years ago with a monthly minibus tour, and now we are filling full size buses four times a month. While it is only a modest contribution given the size of the population here, it's still a qualitative contribution, so to speak, and for us, it is significant. Anat was managing the budget and said, "Look, we've got funds left over and the students are going on vacation, so whoever wants to invite their friends can and we'll go on tours." I have a large family and I advertised the tour among my relatives. My family filled a minibus with twenty people and I took them on a tour - they came thanks to my invitation. I was surprised, frankly. After the tour we handed out feedback sheets and my sister-in-law wrote, "The tour changed my political views." I was in shock. One tour led to another. Yesterday, at the demonstration, I met a woman who became active after going on one of our student tours. Recently, someone wrote to me and said, "You know, thanks to the tour, I'm very active now." In Machsom Watch some women objected to these tours on the basis of principle. In our general assembly there were discussions against the tours: "Are we organizing fun events for people while Palestinians suffer?" On one of the fliers we made to promote the tours, we wrote something along the lines of, "In Hawara we'll have fun drinking coffee and eating Baklava1." Some of the women got very upset. "Fun? In the Territories?" We got rid of the word "fun" right away. I wrote a report after every tour and in one report I wrote that I asked a soldier2 to talk to the people [on the tour]. During our general assembly it was like a lynch mob: "Don't you dare give soldiers a platform to speak on our tours." But my rationale for letting the soldier talk to the people on the tour was the exact opposite - I wanted to show people how brainwashed our soldiers are in the army. It's terribly important, and I believe that if all the mothers instead of just the three hundred members of Machsom Watch - if we had three hundred thousand mothers and grandmothers seeing what the Occupation is doing to their children - we wouldn't be here. But what do I show instead? Only negative things, and I want to show that things are bad for us, too; unfortunately, that's the only thing that will make a difference. On several tours people have gone up to the soldiers on their own accord to talk to them and that's very important.

    • 1. Baklava is a common sweet in the West Bank and the greater Middle East.
    • 2. Israeli citizens that serve in the Israeli military. See Israeli Military Service.

  • Who attends these tours?

    People from all over - people from the political center, but not hardcore right-wingers. This Friday we're planning a tour with former pilots who are approximately sixty-years-old. This group was organized because one of our members and a close friend of mine, an amazingly modest woman, yet that does the most incredible things, said, "Listen, my husband is a former pilot, but he's never been to the Territories." All her children are activists and her husband is still having a hard time with it. I visited them and then she asked, "Why don't you go on a tour with Dalia?" He was neither here nor there. We ended up organizing a group to fill a minibus for a tour this coming Friday. Yesterday I met her and said, "They're real heroes sending bombs out in the air without seeing where they're going." She said, "On land they're scared to death of going to the Territories." I couldn't believe it. "Afraid?" "Yes, you have no idea how afraid they are." I'm often asked whether or not I'm afraid, especially by soldiers, "Aren't you afraid of going to the Territories?" I say what Daphna once replied: "Take off your uniform and your weapon and come with me, you won't be afraid." And that's how it is. We're received with a lot of love and warmth and interest in building relationships. After a few tours,we took a new approach: going to [Palestinian] villages rather than checkpoints. There is nothing novel about checkpoints anymore; everyone knows what checkpoints are - we've brought them to the public attention.

  • I'd like to go back to monitoring checkpoints. What motivated you to monitor checkpoints?

    Tzvia sent me something she read this week, something along the lines of "You can't ignore what you've seen once you've seen it." The first time I went to a checkpoint, there was no way I could refrain from returning. After that, I'd go every week on Wednesdays. But after I would get home, I would collapse, yet I couldn't sleep, and by the time I got over it, it was Wednesday again; it was like some kind of dybbuk1 had gotten into me. It's impossible to leave it be and it's so outrageous that you can't just stay at home. I'd go home [after going to the checkpoints] to be with my family, but I would be thinking of people who couldn't be home with their families, people we didn't permit to be at home in the evening. It drove me crazy. In terms of the women at Machsom Watch, it's as though I found home. I suddenly felt like I was in good company, it felt like friendship used to feel, that together we're building something, feeling like compatriots working for justice. This sense of belonging was very good for me, and I made new friends and left old ones. I met my cousin and as she was introducing me to her friend she said, "This is my cousin - every ten years she changes her direction...and her friends." For my eightieth birthday, I invited both my relatives and my friends from Machsom Watch; I wanted my family to meet my friends. It was extraordinary.

    • 1. In Jewish folklore, a dybbuk is a human spirit that, due to former sins, wanders until it makes residence in a living person. See "dybbuk." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 2011. 17 June 2011 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/174964/dybbuk

  • You started to tell me about going to villages, besides monitoring checkpoints.

    I was on my way to monitor a checkpoint as usual with Tammy, and Miki Fischer called us; she's always initiating projects. She said, "Listen, I heard there's a man in Ras A-Tira who isn't being given a permit to leave the house. Go see what the story is." We went to Ras A-Tira and met a man who lost his residency permit. It turns out Palestinians who live in the villages inside the Alfei Menashe enclave live in a closed military zone. The settlers from Alfei Menashe are obviously allowed in and out - they're Israeli citizens - but the [Palestinian] residents of the five villages swallowed up in this enclave aren't Israeli citizens, nor are they part of the West Bank1, and they live in a closed military zone. These people have permits enabling them to sleep in their homes and if a person looses this permit, he or she becomes illegal in his or her own home, unable to leave, because if caught, he or she will be considered illegal. So this man had lost his permit. What could we do? We started taking care of the matter. It took four months for him to get his permit back; he had to stay at home until then. That's what the Occupation does. A few days ago I met a well known Israeli author and his wife. They asked, "What are you up to?" I didn't want to talk about it - I know they're right-wing. "So what are you doing these days? Are you still doing Feldenkrais?" I said, "No." "What are you doing instead?" I said, "I'm with Machsom Watch." "Really? What do you do there?" I mumbled a little and his wife said, "Listen, I don't share your views but good for you for doing what you believe in." We started talking and I began to talk about land theft. He said, "What do you mean, land theft? There's a courthouse, isn't there?" I said, "Go read Palestinian Walks by Raja Shehadeh.2 He's a lawyer protecting a man who is about to loose his lands even though they're legally registered. He's got all the necessary permits and yet the State showed no respect for that and took away his land. It's in the book. You're a man of words, read it." What interests me now are the enclaves we've created in order to include settlements. In Ras A-Tira, people still can't reach their land. Yesterday, a friend called me to say, "If the gate [between the village and the farmlands] isn't opened this week, I stand to lose my entire wheat crop." This morning I asked others at Machsom Watch to take care of this. We have women taking care of every kind of issue. I'm out in the villages and Tammy, my friend (we used to monitor checkpoints together), stays at home and makes phone calls. She has a great relationship with the army - she knows how to talk to them. I don't; I'm not capable of speaking to them because I instantly get mad, but she doesn't. Once she was absent and I did the calling. The [soldier] on the other end of the line said, "Talking to Tammy is much nicer..." Tammy served in the Palmach and went from the Palmach to the checkpoints. Tzvia and I started focusing on the villages [in the Alfei Menashe enclave]. When we see someone near a store in the villages, we stop and start chatting, and immediately we get invited in for coffee. We sit together, people start joining us, we get to talking and that's how relationships begin. During these conversations we document and set out to help. Machsom Watch used to say, "We're not a ladies welfare organization. We aren't here to help Palestinians - we're here to protest the Occupation." True, I'm protesting, but there's a sense of satisfaction in helping, that's the truth. If I, with Tzvia, can get Ras A-Tira connected to electricity, it'll be worth everything.

    • 1. Due to the adjacent separation barrier and surrounding Israeli settlements, these Palestinians are stuck in a permanent closed military zone. Therefore, they are under full Israeli military jurisdiction and must have permits to both reside in and enter/exit their homes and villages.
    • 2. Raja Shehadeh (1951- ) is a Palestinian lawyer and writer who currently lives in Ramallah, West Bank. In addition to founding the Palestinian human rights organization Al Haq, he also won a 2008 Orwell Prize, Britain's pre-eminent award for political writing, for his book Palestinian Walks. See Aguirre, Abby. "Roaming Freely in a Land of Restraints." New York Times. 12 August 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/13/books/13walks.html 

  • Some might argue that Machsom Watch's work could be perceived as serving the Occupation, given that it lessens the military officers' responsibility to protect Palestinian human rights at checkpoints.

    Someone sent me an article written by Ben Gurion in which he wrote what we now think about Jews and Arabs. It's incredible that Ben Gurion said these things: that we have to accept the Arabs, not only because it's beneficial to us or for the sake of being good neighbors, but in terms of our principles - if we want to justify our existence, we must justify theirs. In short, the truth. When did Ben Gurion change his mind? I wrote to Kobi, my cousin, Moshe Sharett's son, he's a historian: "When did Ben Gurion change?" He replied that Zionism has always used two different voices. The ethical aspect was important for self-justification, as well as for external support. But exceptions constantly occurred, large-scale exceptions, and that always went together. This conflict of oppositions is constantly true at checkpoints, too. We protest, yet we assist the Occupation's existence. We stand by the soldiers and seek to modify their aggression, yet the soldiers perceive us as enemies, not as assistance. Nobody likes having people observe his every movement, that much is obvious. But, among us are mothers and grandmothers, whose sons serve in the army. So we encounter a conflict: I'm not against the soldiers, I oppose the policy. But that isn't entirely accurate in many cases as well - I've opposed the soldiers. Poor guys, I view them as victims, good boys from good homes that are placed in impossible conditions and are worn out and corrupted. People say the Occupation corrupts, but who exactly does it corrupt? It corrupts the people who enforce it, the friendly, nice soldiers. When I see the outcome - a soldier who has kicked a seated young [Palestinian] man - I'm unable to love that soldier, I just can't. I recall such an example: I saw a young man who was forced by the soldier to sit, and the soldier started kicking him. When the soldier came to his senses, I said, "Just so you know, I saw that." What else could I do?

  • Some might also argue that your presence at checkpoints grants checkpoints a human rights organization's seal of approval?

    Quite the contrary. I'll give you an example: of all the brigade commanders I've come across, just one - and he has since gone on to a different post - was a proper commander, like the commanders of the Haganah. He knew what his role was. He asked Tammy, who was in touch with him, "Every time you go [monitor] a checkpoint, take photos and send them to me. I'd like to know what goes on there, because the soldiers don't always inform me." When Tammy used to call him to tell him about something wrong at a checkpoint he'd say, "I'll take care of it right away," and within ten minutes he did. But he was only one commander. Soldiers are influenced by the commander's approach, but most commanders have a very different approach than the commander I just described. Just recently, Tammy and I met with the new commander of the Qalqilia and Tulkarm region, and at first we were very impressed. He said, "I'd like to join you, without my uniform, so I can see the checkpoint operated from your perspective." I didn't want to visit a checkpoint with him. Although he wouldn't be wearing a uniform, the Palestinians might have recognized him. Me, collaborating with the army? Getting out of that wasn't difficult because he got out of it on his own. While I had left that meeting with a good feeling about the commander, the soldiers' orders [in Qalqilia and Tulkarem] have become worse and worse since I met him, and the commander's orders have created new difficulties. His orders prevent farmers from reaching their farmlands and from traveling directly from their fields to the market in Qalqilia. The addition of a new checkpoint only makes travel to the market in Qalqilia possible the next day and their produce isn't fresh anymore. We write letters, demonstrate against these measures, but nothing helps, and that's because of that nice commander I met. There are always two very different voices. While people claim we help the Occupation, the Occupation exists in the meantime, and people exist, and we cannot witness injustice and just stand back. I feel that I have to help people who live under Occupation. I can and I have the contacts to help. For instance, Tzvia made some contacts at [the Israeli] electrical company and now she's the West Bank electricity woman. We managed to get Shufa connected to electricity. It actually got connected on it a month ago, but Tzvia was working on it for eight months until it got connected to electricity. I told her, "I'm taking you to Ras A-Tira now." We visited Ras A-Tira, and she wrote down everything people there told her. I didn't understand because it's so complicated, but Tzvia knows her way around. So I take her places and she gets things done.

  • What do you consider a small victory?

    I think electricity supply is a large victory. Tzvia is working in Jayyous to get them connected to running water; it's incredible that a village so near Qalqilia doesn't have running water. Why don't they? Because when building the fence, the village's five wells remained on the other side of the wall. So Jayyous now receives its water from Azun, which is far away, and en route, the water filters through a garbage dump and the water is unfit for drinking. It's hard to believe these things actually happen. We're trying to take care of this. What could be more satisfying than these people having [access to] water? I can't change the Occupation. I'd do anything. I went to a demonstration yesterday, so what? There is no satisfaction in demonstrating for me. I am satisfied by a substantial contribution and I like being on the ground, helping where I am able. And of course, I write reports and these reports are published and that's a means of protest. I told Aharon Megged's1 wife that we send our reports to human rights organizations in Israel and abroad, and she said, "That's what I don't like. We need to sort it out among ourselves." I said, "Well, that's like waiting for the Messiah." I've had difficult experiences in the past. I'm allowed to approach soldiers who have detained Palestinians. One time I started walking toward [detained Palestinians] and a soldier said, "You aren't going there." I looked at him and continued. He screamed and threw a fit; he wasn't used to being disobeyed. His commander came and took him away because the commander knew I had a right to approach the Palestinians. Tzvia was standing somewhere else and she told me that the soldier came over to her. She started talking to him and they both understood that they had parents who survived the Holocaust. She said to him, "Compare what the Holocaust made you do and what I'm doing. People were burned there." He said, "If I'm told to burn them, I would." The shift ends and soldiers change; he's done. A new shift comes on and his friends hug him, they love him. He's very sweet, a buddy. I wondered to myself how this happens. It just goes to show that even nice soldiers who are friendly lose their humanity. I'm asked why this happens. There are two reasons: one, [soldiers] get worn out from standing at checkpoints for hours or days on end, facing a large public. I once said to a solider, "Remember these are people, not a ‘hostile civilian population.'" He replied, "For me they are a hostile civilian population". That's what happens, and [the soldiers] don't perceive the people as people. And when they go home, [the soldiers] don't tell their mothers that they didn't allow an elderly man to pass - I'm certain they don't. One soldier told me, "My mother's proud of me for being a combat soldier." I asked, "Does she know what you're doing?" Second, the soldiers are afraid. They treat [Palestinians] like hostile civilians and start hating the Palestinians, and then there is fear - what can you expect from a person in such circumstances? After three years of service, lots of [soldiers] escape to India, see a therapist or join Shovrim Shtika. I wanted to take my neighbor along with me to a checkpoint and she said, "I can't join you because I can't stand how you oppose the army." For her, these are the Israeli Defense Forces; she's still living in 1948. But, for me it is an occupying army. I make a clear distinction because it is no longer meant for defense purposes; it's an occupying army that teaches its soldiers to use violence. You can say it's the most ethical army in the world, but that's nonsense, there is no such thing.

    • 1. Aharon Megged (1920- ), a Jewish Israeli author and playwright, immigrated from Poland to Palestine in 1926. 

  • You talked about a defending army versus an occupying one. What's your distinction?

    The [Israeli] army was created from the Haganah, which my father established as an underground organization. The organization had a clear-cut idea: to protect the [pre-State] Jewish community here, and it was certainly not an organization like the Etzel, which aspired to conquer the country by force. In 1948, when we needed an army to fight for our existence, the Haganah was transformed into the army, which was called by the same name: Defense Forces. But after the Six Day War, the Israeli Defense Forces went from defense to Occupation. When I'm asked how I, the daughter of one of the founders of the Haganah, which became the Israeli Defense Forces, "dare" speak out against the army's way of operating, I quote my father from Davar newspaper (August 11, 1925): "A solution based on coercion will only destroy both peoples' forces, rather than reviving them and guiding them towards national liberation." That's my response.

  • What are the greatest challenges about this work, and how do you deal with them?

    It depends what a difficult challenge is. If you mean psychologically, that is a continuous challenge. I wouldn't call the feeling after our meeting with the commander who disappointed me challenging, though it was really hard for me. I would even say it was discouraging. If this man is key in the system - he's the brigade commander for the entire region [of Qalqilia and Tulkarm] - if he says one thing and does the exact opposite, what can I do? It's so very frustrating; I can't overcome the Occupation. I deal with things by helping people or villages; that's my way of overcoming.

  • What lessons have you learned through your work?

    I learned the Palestinians are a nation - I'm not talking politics at all now - that loves hospitality. I see warmth there, a humane warmth, that I sense there and not here, except in my family. That won me over. I unfortunately learned very harsh things about us Jews. People talk about lessons learned from the Holocaust, but what are they? They are quite the opposite of what they should be. Instead of learning not to oppress others and how to be sensitive to the needs of others, we learned the opposite.

  • How can people support your work?

    People don't want to hear us; they don't want to know or hear about it. Our friend celebrated her birthday by inviting her family on a tour [of the Territories] and filled up a bus. After the tour, a young man came up to me and said, "Listen, it's absolutely true, and it's touching, but I can't even tell my friends I went on this tour. They'll think I'm completely out of touch." My granddaughter supports me one hundred percent, but she works for a high-tech company and she said, "There's nobody there I could invite to a tour." I just want people to listen to us. But even though joining a tour is a problem [for some people], the tours are growing, and every two or three days I get a call from someone who heard about the tour and wants to take one. That's a contribution, and in this way, I feel like I'm doing something.

  • What is similar and what is different about the fears Israelis and Palestinians have?

    The Palestinians are beginning to hate the soldiers. A young man from Jayyous said to me, "Listen, I worked in Tel Aviv for fifteen years and now I'm not permitted to enter Israel. My land was confiscated, I sit at home. Soldiers come every night to yell and scare us. My son, who is fifteen, was imprisoned for three months. How am I to educate my children? Tell me. I'd really like to say I have good friends [who are Israeli], and in truth I do. I love them and they love me. But we aren't in touch because I can't go to Israel and they're too afraid to come here. I want to be able to tell my son the Israelis want peace. There's nobody to tell that to; my son laughs, saying, ‘I see what the Israelis are doing.'" The younger generation [of Palestinians] hates us, the older generation that worked here in Israel accepts us and misses us, really just misses us. It's funny how we're afraid of visiting the West Bank in spite of all our might, like those pilots I told you about, who are scared to visit. When I worked as a music teacher I had a colleague and we became friends. I told her about the tours and she asked, "Aren't you afraid?" I said, "No, I've been driving there alone for eight years and I'm not afraid." She called me the next day to say, "I'll join you." She joined me for a tour, she's right-wing. During the tour I looked at her and asked, "Are you still afraid?" She laughed. People are afraid because of what they don't know, and what they don't want to know. How can we overcome that?

  • How could you improve your work and increase your impact?

    That's the sixty-four million dollar question - I wish I had an answer. I think that as long as economic and security issues are still favorable [in Israel], change won't occur. The Israelis are content and uninterested in what is being done in their name to their neighbors. Only a blow where it hurts will result in an awakening.

  • Do you ever have any doubts about what you're doing?

    No! Not at all! Not about the way I've made decisions either. I think claiming I'm collaborating with the Occupation is nonsense. Is helping people called collaborating with the Occupation? I do what I do to promote human rights and I believe that people who work for human rights can't support the Occupation; that would really be an impossible conflict. I've completely reconciled this.

  • How has this work changed you?

    It's given me a lot of strength. I used to work for the Academy of Music and for the Ministry of Education, and in both places I had a public role. I had the institution behind me when necessary, but I wasn't willing to lead. I liked working, but here, like I said, in our grassroots non-hierarchical organization - with neither head nor tail - I feel I must do things by myself. This work changed me in the sense that I am able to direct a project without being afraid.

  • Where do you see signs of hope?

    I see signs of hope only outside. I think we, the chosen people, feel a kind of megalomania of being a chosen people. The flotilla events just proved that, and it proved just who we are and that salvation won't be coming from within, unless something happens. I hoped Obama would make a change here, but he's in a very difficult position. I believe in him. I think that hope comes from abroad and the more we can spread our information abroad through the reports we write, that might have a bit of hope. End.