Just Vision Skip to main content

Interview Archives

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.


Browse Interviews

Dorothy Naor

When the events of October 2000 caused Dorothy Naor to begin questioning her beliefs, she joined New Profile, a feminist Israeli organization that aims to "civil-ize” Israeli society and objects to its militarization. Today, Dorothy seeks to inform Israeli and international communities about the price Israelis pay as a result of the occupation. And, although it is a controversial and painful issue for her to address within her community, Dorothy publicly advocates for active engagement in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a nonviolent means to ending the occupation. Dorothy has also been involved in providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinian patients in Israel.

  • Please tell me a bit about yourself, your background and what brought you here.

    I am 77 years old, which means I'm of the Holocaust generation, and I grew up in the United States. I knew people who had lived through the Holocaust, survivors, had heard their stories and like everyone else, thought that the Jews needed a country of their own. My husband is from Austria. He came here in 1939 with his father. They ran away from the Nazis after the S.S.1 had come and taken my mother-in-law; they didn't know if she was going to return, so my father-in-law decided they had to get out. The only place they could go was here. I met [my husband], Israel, when he came to study in the United States in 1950. He was very glad to be there - I think he had seen enough wars by that time. We got married in 1952. By that time I had been to Israel and I loved it. I was totally ignorant and believed all of the mantras: Jews coming to a country without a people, people without a country coming to a land without a people and all that. It took many years before I started asking questions. But, I started asking questions because the wars were beginning to bother me. Why do we have to go to war all the time? Eventually, the big break came for me in October 2000 when the Israeli police massacred 13 Palestinians, 12 of whom were Israeli citizens. I was really depressed and someone said, "Go with these people, they are going to pay their condolences," and that turned out to be my introduction to New Profile. I started studying history. I read Jabotinsky and a lot of other authors, and realized what Israel was meant to be. There were many schools of Zionism; the two that became prominent here - the Labor and the Revisionist - had both strongly wanted an expansion, they wanted all of Palestine. They also wanted a militaristic Jew, a Jew that would not be led into the slaughter.2 It was a long process; it didn't immediately happen when I first began studying. But today, I oppose nationalism and this is a very nationalistic, militaristic state; militarism is always nationalistic. I don't think that any country built on a single religion, it doesn't matter if it's Muslim or Christian or Jew or Hindu or whatever else - a single religion, culture, ethnicity, color - can be democratic. We have to fight racism. We have to fight prejudice and not just anti-Semitism. A "divide and conquer" policy would mean the Jews against the Muslims, the Muslims against the Christians, and we will never get anywhere. We have to fight racism and anti-Semitism is a form of racism. We have gone through twelve wars,3 and I don't count what happened in Gaza as a war because wars are between armies - that was the army against a civilian population. We've had twelve military campaigns in less than sixty-one years, and Israel has become a highly militaristic country. But, it's not only about what Israel has become: I don't believe in a country based on nationalism, based on a single religion or race.

    • 1. S.S. stands for Schutzstaffel, German for "Protective Echelon." The S.S. was an elite corps within the Nazi Party that amassed both police and military power during Hitler's reign. See online: "SS." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 8 June 2011 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/562059/SS
    • 2. Naor refers to Jews that will defend themselves as opposed to being killed en masse, as Jews were targeted and killed during the Holocaust and previous events throughout Europe. See Holocaust.
    • 3. Depending on the person and perspective, the number of wars Israel has fought will increase or decrease. For information on Israeli military campaigns see: Kumaraswamy, P.R. Historical Dictionary of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Oxford: The Scarecrow Press, 2006.

  • Please tell me about your work.

    I take people on tours of a small part of the West Bank, showing them things that I think are very important for them to see. On [Israeli] television they show how wonderful it is in Ramallah and how wonderful it is in Gaza, how because of the tunnels you can buy everything. This is a very small part of the story - Ramallah does not reflect life in Palestine.1 That leaves Israelis thinking everything is beautiful and they don't see a lot of the things that I do. So I take people to a very small portion of Palestine, but a part that is representative of it in terms of the things that are happening there. We see things and we talk to people, a few people, depending on how long the tour is. I am going out tomorrow with someone. My main involvement is with New Profile. I do the newsletter e-mail that goes out and I am one of five people that contribute to it. We have about two thousand people on our e-mail list. New Profile is a feminist organization that includes males and females. Our feminism is different from the general line of feminism in Israel. In many feminist organizations, what they are doing is bringing women to be equal to males. That means if males can go to the army and be pilots and combat soldiers, females should also be allowed to do so. We are non-militaristic, as I think are most of the organizations that oppose the Occupation. New Profile's main purpose is to transform Israel from a militaristic society to what we call a "civil-ized" society. New Profile was founded before the Second Intifada. When the Second Intifada began, there was another line of activity that became prominent in our work, and that is helping [Israeli] kids who, for whatever reason, don't want to go to the military. This involves supplying necessary legal assistance and informing them of what their rights are. We do nothing illegal, even though right now we are under the gun. There is a group who wants everyone to have equality by having everyone serve the country. Their mistake is that they think that first, people should serve their country, rather than the country serve its people; and, second, that the only way to serve your country is through military service. They want to take away the non-profit status of New Profile,2 which means we won't be able to have tax-deductible donations. We don't know where that's going to go. We are also being investigated for instigating youngsters not to go to the army, which we don't. The most we do is try to get kids to question, to think. We do not tell youngsters, "Don't go to the army." In fact, we have had seminars where we have brought army personnel to talk to them; we also bring in speakers for youth to hear the other side. The main issue is to have them think, which is not encouraged greatly in Israel because in a militaristic society you don't want people to think, but to obey.

    • 1. See Donnison, Jon. "Fragile stability of aid-dependent Palestinian economy." BBC. 27 May 2011 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13567213
    • 2. For New Profile's description of the case launched against them by the Israeli government, see "Activity Report." New Profile. 2009. 10 June 2011 http://www.newprofile.org/data/uploads/NewProfileReport2009.pdf. In January 2011, New Profile was cleared both by the Attorney General and the Registrar of Not-for-Profits in Israel.

  • In the decade you've been active in New Profile, do you feel more young people turn to you?

    I think that there are more youngsters that turn to us. We have been publicized thanks to the investigation against us, which has brought even more people to us. During the Second Lebanese War we had 900 or so appeals for help not to go to the army, regular service and reserves. Normally we don't deal with reserves, and it was like a tsunami. We couldn't handle it.

  • How do you explain this? Do you think the Israeli society is going through some kind of transformation?

    Yes, I think so. I think one of the reasons we're being investigated is that the motivation to serve in combat units, especially elite combat units, is not what it was.

  • But that contradicts what we saw in the recent war in Gaza, there was very strong support in Israel.

    The number of Israelis that do not go to the army is slightly above fifty percent, and that has not changed.1 What has changed is that youngsters have come out, publicized their views in open letters to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense, explaining why they are not willing to go to the army -- and then they go to jail. This is coming out publicly; it's like coming out of the closet. It's coming out publicly with a statement that is very bold and that you know will work against you in the sense that you are going to go to jail if you don't go to the army. I think that is a big change. Since 2000, I think there have been three major petitions, each with quite a few youngsters signing, and this is a big change. The fifty percent [of Israelis who don't serve in the army] includes the Arabs and the haredim, which are small percentages. It also includes those who don't want to go, not because of idealistic reasons. There are those from a low socio-economic status. They are called ‘gray objectors.'2

    • 1. Later in this interview, Naor mentions her 50% statistic includes both Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel and ultra-Orthodox Jews. As noted in the article provided, the figure of 25% includes only men. This may account for the discrepancy between the figure Dorothy presents and the figure noted in the Jerusalem Post article. See Keinon, Herb. "25% of young men don't serve in the IDF." Jerusalem Post. 30 November 2009 http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=161794
    • 2. Gray Objectors are Israeli citizens that evade Israeli military service with medical or other excuses. See Lynfield, Ben. "Some in Israeli Army defy the call to arms." Christian Science Monitor. 18 December 2000. 8 June 2011 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JustPeaceUK/message/186?var=1

  • Both with New Profile and with your more independent work, such as taking people on tours, what do you feel are some of your achievements?

    Informing people - people keep writing me ‘thank yous' for what I send them and I think, "How could anyone thank me for sending this?" I give presentations abroad when I'm traveling, and I've done a number of interviews. I support BDS - boycott, divestment and sanctions. If my youngest son heard that he would blow his top - it would certainly impact him. It will impact everyone in my family, but if I have to weigh and measure, I don't see anything else that's going to help. We have to put pressure on the government to bring about change, and I think the only way this is possible is through boycott, sanctions and divestment. If I have to weigh and measure the situation now, the next four years are just around the corner.1 Twelve wars have killed enough people on both sides - in Lebanon, in Israel, in Gaza, in the West Bank. I want to bring about change. I want very badly to bring about change. And, even if it's not going to happen in my lifetime, I want to feel that I will have had something to do with this. When I go abroad and give presentations, I talk very little about the Palestinians unless I'm doing a Q&A and am explicitly asked questions. I talk about the cost of occupation on Israelis - the cost of expansionism as a policy, and of ethnic cleansing,2 on Israelis. That cost is very great. I feel that this is one of the more important things I do. Funny, Gideon Levy3 and I were at a conference once, and he missed what I said because he missed his train. In the morning, I talked about the [Occupation's] cost to Israelis, and in the afternoon, he said Israelis don't pay anything for the Occupation. So I went and talked to him and he agreed there is a cost. When 80,000 Holocaust survivors live under the poverty line [in Israel], something is wrong.4 There's of a lot of money that goes into the Territories and into expansion. There's no lack of funds when it comes to expanding in the Territories;5 but, there is a fifth of the people working in Israel live under the poverty line. When a quarter of the people in Israel live under the poverty line, when Holocaust survivors live under the poverty line, when one of every four children lives under the poverty line6 - something is wrong. Tremendous amounts of money are being thrown away, whether on the wall, on [bypass] roads, on colonies7 or on expansion, and people don't know about that. But Gideon Levy was right about one thing: [Israelis] are not aware of what's happening and this is because they are kept in a constant state of fear. We are living under a constant state of attack here. We are the eternal victims, not the victimizer, right? There is something true about that. We are in a constant state of war; with all the talk here, it's either about the past wars, the present one, or the one to come, you can never get away from that. I don't remember a year that I have lived here that hasn't had some war on the horizon.

    • 1. Naor refers to Israel's national elections, which take place every four years, or when called for by the majority of Knesset members.
    • 2. In referring to policies of "ethnic cleansing", Naor means Israeli policies that ensure that "the whole of historic Palestine . . . [has] as few Palestinians in it as possible." In a follow-up with Naor, she cites specific examples of such policies including: Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs losing their residency if they are abroad for a certain number of years, Palestinian spouses (from the West Bank or Gaza) of Israeli citizens being denied both Israeli citizenship and permanent residency, and restricting access to or taking farmland from Palestinians in the West Bank. See "2010 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories." U.S. Department of State. 8 April 2011 http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/nea/154463.htm
    • 3. Gideon Levy is an Israeli journalist who writes for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Often writing on Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, he advocates for the end of the Israeli military occupation. See Round, Simon. "Interview: Gideon Levy." The Jewish Chronicle. 16 September 2010 http://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/the-simon-round-interview/38184/interview-gideon-levy
    • 4. See Lipshiz, Cnaan. "Israel grants 12,000 Holocaust survivors NIS 6,000 apiece." Haaretz. 13 July 2009. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israel-grants-12-000-holocaust-survivors-nis-6-000-apiece-1.279865
    • 5. Naor refers to money being spent by the Israeli government on the expansion or "natural growth" of Israeli settlements and surrounding transportation and security infrastructure in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In Israel's 2011-2012 budget, at least 2 billion shekels went toward settlement construction and infrastructure. See Settlement and Settlement Subsidies. See also Eldar, Akiva. "New state budget gives settlements NIS 2 billion - and more." Haaretz. 31 December 2010 http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/new-state-budget-gives-settlements-nis-2-billion-and-more-1.334390
    • 6. For recent statistics on poverty in Israel, see: "Investing in Israeli Society: Addressing Poverty in Israel." Israel Philanthropy Advisors. November 2007. 22 May 2011 http://www.jewishfederations.org/local_includes/downloads/33669.pdf
    • 7. By "colonies", Naor means Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. See Settlements.

  • You talked about supporting BDS - boycott, divestment and sanctions. What kind of boycott and sanctions are you calling for?

    I support BDS because it is a nonviolent means of pressuring governments. People, institutions and governments abroad can participate in BDS: sanctions by governments; divestment by governments and institutions, like pension funds or universities. To be effective, the boycott should apply across the board and include academic, cultural, and government institutions as well as corporations and private businesses. I do not believe that individual academics should be boycotted, but the universities definitely should be; they cooperate fully in the militaristic aims of Israel's government.

  • Why are you calling for BDS? What is the power of economic sanctions?

    My idea of boycott is not merely for economic reasons. Israelis will begin to feel that Israel is being delegitimized if enough artists and sports teams refuse to cross the picket line and perform in Israel so long as it refuses to agree to justice for Palestinians and peace and security for all. Cultural boycott, should it become widespread, will of course anger many Israelis, but perhaps it will also cause some of them to think and then to question. I think that economic pressure as divestment, if it spreads widely enough, will potentially have impact on the government via pressure from the private business sector. Just recently a major Dutch pension fund, PFZW, decided to divest from 13 Israeli companies to the sum of about 97 billion Euros - a considerable amount of money.1 Should this kind of divestment spread widely, it will hit Israeli companies hard, but that gives me no pleasure. Members of my own family and many other families in Israel, including poor ones, will be hurt by it. But, since I believe that BDS is the most potent nonviolent means of pressuring governments, and since I hope it will be able to bring about change, I feel strongly that we must pursue it.

    • 1. For a copy of PFZW's letter to Israeli companies, see "Statement PFZW to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine." PFZW. 12 November 2010. 22 May 2011 http://www.pfzw.nl/Images/20101112%20Brief%20PFZW%20aan%20Russell%20Tribunal%20on%20Palestine_tcm20-173815.pdf

  • What are the drawbacks of economic sanctions?

    Working for a better future is more important than retaining life under present conditions. After all, although economic hardships might last for years, in the long run they are temporary, and, unlike a life lost, might possibly be reversed. Israel has fought enough wars, has lost enough young people - not to mention all that the Palestinians have suffered from families having being dispersed and separated, from home demolitions, from having their lands stolen, from having so many killed and imprisoned with no end in sight. If someone can suggest a better nonviolent way to end the suffering on both sides, I am willing to listen. If someone could stop the U.S. military aid1 and other support of Israel, we would possibly not need BDS.

    • 1. According to a 10-year US military aid agreement signed into law in 2007, Israel will receive a total of $30 billion dollars in military aid until 2018. See Sharp, Jeremy M. "U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel." Congressional Research Service. 16 September 2010 http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

  • Your opponents claim you, as well as international audiences, are judging Israel according to standards nobody applies to any other country.

    Just as two wrongs don't make a right, neither do ten wrongs nor one thousand wrongs, so Israel's conduct has to be judged by acceptable standards, not by what other countries do. Does Israel commit war crimes? Is Israel racist? Is Israel colonizing? And so on and so forth. When the response to such questions is 'yes,' then Israel is to be censured. I don't live in other countries; I live here. As a citizen, it is my responsibility to censure what I believe is wrong and to try to correct the situation.

  • How do you deal with the possibility that sanctions and divestment will make Israelis feel even stronger that the world is anti-Israel rather than convince Israelis of the problem at hand?

    The function of BDS is to pressure the government. Obviously some Israelis will also be harmed, but that harm is the lesser of two evils - bringing about change by nonviolent means versus by violent means.

  • How can people abroad help end the conflict?

    I want to encourage them to support BDS. This is one reason I also talk about the cost to Israelis. Over the years I have spoken about the cost to Palestinians and that did not get me very far. I always begin by saying that there is no symmetry, that I don't mean to imply that there can be symmetry between oppressor and oppressed, and occupier and occupied, but Israelis too pay for this and people don't know about that. I tell them I'm going to talk about this cause and I want to ask for your support. At the end, when I finish, I hand out a document I compiled of about 30 pages of data and statistics. One is called "Living in a Continuous State of War" and it concentrates on the statistics of how many have been killed and how many have been injured. The other is about the film, "To See if I'm Still Smiling"1 and another similar one about boys called "Parallel Lives."2 It came out in Ha'aretz. I have those two in there and then a section about post-traumatic stress. I think it's a very powerful handout and I encourage people to take it. The second [document] is about the socio-economic situation - it has all the statistics that I mentioned before. People don't know these things. Normally, [talking about the cost to Israelis] makes it much harder for anyone to accuse me of self-hatred. They realize that I do tell them how much money is being spent in the Territories and what isn't being spent in Israel itself. It makes it much easier for me at the end to ask for their support. I do tell people that my whole family will suffer badly from a boycott, but if I have to weigh and measure the continued killing against suffering economic distress, I know where my fealty lies and what my job is. Not everyone goes out immediately and boycotts, not everyone goes out and tells their organizations to divest; but, I think at least I plant the seed of why to do it and people don't jump on me for suggesting a boycott. At New Profile, I asked to have the subject brought up and others agree that maybe we should support BDS. I know that there are some people it will be very difficult to convince. For a while I was uncomfortable because I always go and speak as a member of New Profile when I give presentations abroad. When we discussed this everyone said, "Look, we all have things that we say and not necessarily everyone agrees within the organization." I say, "This is my personal opinion, so I do it."

    • 1. See Karpel, Dalia. "My god, what did we do?" Haaretz. 8 November 2007 http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/my-god-what-did-we-do-1.232798
    • 2. See Karpel, Dalia. "Parallel lives." Haaretz. 5 October 2007 http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/parallel-lives-1.230483

  • Please tell me about some of the relationships with Palestinians that have developed around the different kinds of work you do.

    I used to go out to all the demonstrations in the [Palestinian] villages.1 I haven't been able to go for a couple of years because I am limited by the amount of walking I can do. [But,] there are so many other things I do, [such as] drive Palestinians to hospitals. You build up relationships when you visit a family for any period of time. One family we visited has a little girl who had a kidney transplant that I was highly involved in. The woman who donated the kidney is from South Africa, we all met at Mas'ha. We have a very dear friend from Mas'ha whose family's fields are in Azun Atme. The whole village has been fenced off for a long time and people have only been able to get into Azun Atme through the checkpoint and with permits. The villagers kept cutting through the fence to be able to drive out, so the army put up a stronger fence and two watch towers. It used to be a three-minute ride to get the fields. Now, it takes an hour to get to the checkpoint then it depends on how long a wait there is at the checkpoint. I know how these things work - I've seen this in other villages. At first they open three times a day for a while and then they stop opening it regularly and eventually you can't get through. In other words, the village is being choked. It is surrounded by colonies and people want them out.

  • Do you feel that you've had any kind of impact?

    I don't know, I'll never know. One soldier once came out and said, "Look, we've spent sixty years using force, and what do we have to show for that as a result? Maybe we have to try some other way." That, for me, was very positive. If I can plant a single seed, I'll have gotten somewhere. I don't know where that seed is going to go. I don't know if it's going to go anywhere, but the chances are that it will, and maybe those chances are small . . . But, there's a rhyme, a ditty that goes: "Little drops of water/Little grains of sand/Make the mighty ocean/And the pleasant land."1 You try. I can't do more than that. I'd be glad to if someone told me how, but this is where I am. With New Profile I try to do as much as possible.

    • 1. An excerpt from Julia A. Fletcher Carney's poem Little Things. See Carney, Julia A. Fletcher. Little Things.1845. Poem Hunter.com. September 2010. 13 June 2011 http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/little-things-23

  • What are the roots of the conflict?

    This conflict is about land. Some of the Zionist organizations early back did not insist on [having a] state - they wanted just a homeland for the Jews. Jews, Christians and Muslims have lived in Israel, in Palestine, from at least as early as the Crusades.1 That's going back a long way. Peki'in, for example, is a village where Jews, Muslims and Druze - I don't know whether there were Christians or not - lived there for centuries together in peace.2 In 1947, when the UN proposed dividing Palestine, partitioning it, the Jews were a third of the population on six percent of the land in a highly agricultural country. Only twenty percent of the Jews were living on the land, most Jews were traditionally in the cities, craftsmen. In 1947, the partition gave the Jews - a third of the population - fifty-five percent of the land and most of the sea. And what wasn't given to the Jews was taken by them afterward - brutally kicking out 750,000 Palestinians from their lands, completely destroying and demolishing 530 or some odd villages,3 and not allowing the refugees to come back. That's not exactly a recipe for peace. I try very hard not to do onto others what I don't want done on to me. My husband is free to go back to Austria and become a citizen if he wants. We were even in his apartment. Our daughter went to Vienna a year and a half ago and she wanted to know where he lived. When they went there they saw that part of the sidewalk had been removed and there were a bunch of keys, hundreds of keys on display. She saw her father's name and her uncle and her grandparents' names. They met the people who were doing this and it turned out that they were historians who were doing research of the history of this street. Twenty-five percent of it had been Jews and this was not the Jewish area. Of the people that were doing it, two of the women came and we met them here. One of them turned out to be living in the exact apartment that my husband grew up in. It's really something, a coincidence, but to make a long story short, we visited the apartment. My husband would not want to go back to Vienna to live there. His memories are too unpleasant; the rest of his family, his extended family who lived in Hungary and in Vienna, died, perished in the camps. The keys spoke to me and when they were here I introduced them to Eitan Bronstein4 from Zochrot, because the two projects are very similar. The big difference is that in Vienna the Austrian government supports it. Here in Israel the government doesn't; quite the contrary.

    • 1. The Crusades were fought by the Roman Catholic Church from 1095 to 1291.
    • 2. For a history of Peki'in's Jewish population, see "Peki'in." Jewish Agency for Israel. 10 June 2011 http://www.jafi.org.il/JewishAgency/English/Jewish+Education/Compelling+Content/Eye+on+Israel/Places+in+Israel/Pekiin.htm
    • 3. See Khoury, Jack. "Israeli Arabs to remember Nakba with traditional procession." Haaretz. 2 May 2006 http://www.haaretz.com/news/israeli-arabs-to-remember-nakba-with-traditional-procession-1.186697
    • 4. Eitan Bronstein (1960- ), a Jewish Israeli, moved to Israel from Argentina when he was five years old. Bronstein founded Zochrot in 2002, an Israeli organization that raises awareness among Israeli Jews about the Palestinian Nakba (see al Nakba). See "Eitan Bronstein." American Friends Service Committee. 20 June 2011 http://www.afsc.org/story/eitan-bronstein

  • How do you feel that Israelis and Palestinians' fears affect the conflict? Is there a difference between fears for Israelis and Palestinians?

    If I were a Palestinian mother, I think, psychologically I'd be - if I had an 18-year-old or 17-year-old son picked up and thrown into jail - I don't know how they deal with it. The checkpoints are terrible, and terrible things have happened, but the fact is that they don't stop anyone from coming in. How many Palestinians without permits get in every week? At one time the figures were 500 - 1,000. I don't know what they are now.1 I was once on a bus [to Bethlehem] and we were stopped by two female soldiers. When they turned their backs to show the driver where he should stop, he opened the back door and about three-quarters of the bus jumped off. It was a small bus, but even so. I said, "Poor people, they paid their fare, they don't have permits and now they won't get where they want to go." It took about twenty minutes - we all showed our documents and so on and so forth and we were on our way. Maybe a kilometer from there the driver stopped, opened the doors and everyone got back on. This is one of my favorite stories. I was there and I saw it all with my own eyes. There are ways of getting around things. Whenever I hear about incursions,2 in the middle of the night, like what's been happening in Bil'in, what used to happen in Mas'ha and many other villages, I think of that night that the Nazis came and knocked on the door of my in-law's house and took my mother-in-law. These are frightening things. Sure there are fears and different people handle things differently.

    • 1. According to a 2010 Associated Press article, 10,000 to 15,000 Palestinians work in Israel without a permit. See Hubbard, Ben. "Israelis kill Palestinian worker who sneaked in." Associated Press. 10 March 2010. 8 June 2011 http://www.kavlaoved.org.il/media-view_eng.asp?id=2998
    • 2. Naor is referring to Israeli military incursions into Palestinian towns.

  • Do Israelis and their fears affect this conflict?

    Sure, of course they do. With fear you can convince people to believe anything. It's like when I was a kid. Before the civil rights movement I'm sure the things people were saying about blacks in the United States - that they are going to rape white women - impacted people. Obviously fear is a terrific way to control a population. We need it here to keep the population in toe, keep them serving in the army and believing in all the things the government wants them to believe in. It's a very brainwashed country.

  • What do you think the government wants Israelis to believe?

    That there is no one to talk to, that the Palestinians don't want peace, that we are the victims and they are the victimizer - all of our problems are due to the Palestinians. If we get rid of them we'll have no problems and we'll live happily ever after, hating one another. It keeps people from demanding that the government provide services, that it do something for the people, and so on.

  • What is your vision for the future?

    I'm not a visionary, but I think there are places in the world where things have changed overnight. Look at the U.S.S.R.1 - both the revolution and also the breakup of the U.S.S.R. - both things happened overnight. The Berlin Wall came down overnight;2 I wish that would happen here. I don't see it happening. I don't know whether it's going to take twenty, thirty or a hundred years. I do know that immigration [to Israel] has stopped:3 twenty-five percent of [Israeli] academics are abroad and emigration [from Israel] is defiantly increasing.4 I look for these figures all the time. A lot of people go abroad and they don't intend to emigrate, they say, "we'll go to work for a while," or they go to study, and then they stay. The government is not at all anxious to provide these figures, but we know figures have come out about Russians who go back to Russia, who use Israel as a stopping place to go to Germany. Germany is encouraging Jews to come back, Austria apparently is also doing that. I just learned that in our recent visit.5 Israel needs Jews to be a Jewish country. If you're not going to have Jews it's going to die of itself; it's just going to phase out at some point. I would like to see change, I would like to see it without bloodshed, but I'm not convinced that will happen.

    • 1. U.S.S.R is the acronym for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which came into being in 1922 after the 1917 Russian revolution and subsequent civil war. The USSR was dissolved in 1991. See "Timeline: Soviet Union." BBC News. 3 March 2006 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1112551.stm
    • 2. The Berlin Wall, torn down in 1989, was built by communist East Germany in 1961 to prevent East Germans from moving to West Germany. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/9/newsid_2515000/2515869.stm
    • 3. Though Jewish immigration has not completely stopped, when taking into account emigration, returning citizens and the number of Jews immigrating to Israel, the annual Jewish migration balance is low (10,000 is 2009), dipping extremely low in 2005. See Lustick, Ian S. "Israel's Migration Balance." Israel Studies Review, Vol. 26, No 1 (Summer 2011), pp. 40-43 http://www.polisci.upenn.edu/faculty/Pubs/Lustick_Emigration_ISR_11.pdf.
    • 4. See Ben-David, Dan. "Brain Drained: Soaring Minds." Vox. 13 March 2008 http://temporaryaddress.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/981
    • 5. For information on Jewish emigration from Israel to Russia and Germany, see de Quetteville, Harry. "Israel's anxiety as Jews prefer Germany." The Telegraph. 14 May 2008 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/3558319/Israels-anxiety-as-Jews-prefer-Germany.html

  • Where do you see signs of hope?

    In grassroots movements. There's a lot more happening abroad now, there's a lot more knowledge about what is happening here and a lot more opposition. It hasn't come to the governments yet, except in Britain, where there are some signs of it. But I think grassroots movements will grow and make impact. I think it won't be one thing, but of course if we have a charismatic person who comes up with the right ideas, change could happen overnight. People do want peace here, they do want quiet. I don't think that people want to go on with wars. I think that if there is another war here there will be a tsunami [of people] leaving.

  • Do you feel that the investigation of New Profile's work by the Attorney General in 2008 changed anything for the organization?

    No. Putting people in fear was unpleasant and it certainly put pressure on us but in terms of what we are doing, we go on. We have never done anything illegal; we have our lawyer that we consult with. I wrote down information on a card for my husband: "If I'm taken in by the police please contact a,b,c,d," and it's still there where I left it. I think that after the Second Lebanese War, the army felt very pressured. I think that it saw that a lot of people were refusing and didn't want to go to the army, and the motivation to go was low. We are fighting not the army but militarism; we're fighting, the fact that the military comes into schools in uniforms and works on the kids. These are the things we oppose. We don't break any bones and we certainly don't do anything illegal.

  • But did you really think it would get so far as arresting people, seizing computers?

    If you can have Marzel and his gang running around Arab communities like Um El Fahem -- if you can have fascism here -- why not? I don't know if any of us thought it was going to happen tomorrow, but somewhere in the back of our minds I think that the possibility was always there. We don't linger on it, but we think about it, we've talked about it. The fact that it could happen here bothers me but, okay, there are worse things in life. If that's what I have to pay to get rid of the Occupation - I really want to bring about change in this country. That is the major challenge. I really think that we've got to stop having wars: we've got to have justice.

  • You've been doing this kind of work now for close to a decade. What do you feel you've learned?

    I had other plans for this stage of my life. I would like to get back to the other things I wanted to do; I wish the Occupation would disappear and let me. The friends I've made in New Profile, and people in general who are working against the Occupation - I shouldn't generalize about anything - but they tend to be more humane and caring and open, people with values that I can respect. Some of them are even Zionist. I just feel that I'm at home there, whereas not at home in other places in Israel. Also, I didn't know Palestinians before. I don't think that all Palestinians are great, any more than I think all Jews are great; but, so it happens we have lot of Palestinian friends we find a lot in common with.

  • Is there anything you feel is important for you to say?

    I always say this when I'm doing presentations: I distinguish between Israelis and Israeli policy. When I talk about expansionism, I'm talking about Israeli policy. But it's not that Israelis are bad people, I like my neighbor very much even though we disagree completely. I think Israelis are poorly informed. I think they're ignorant - a lot of Israelis today don't read the newspapers, they don't want to know. They watch television, but anything but the news; that is a recipe for a disaster. You can hide your head in the sand but eventually you will have to come out because it's going to hit you. I think there will be another war. I don't know who the war is going to be with but we are so threatened - we're threatened by Lebanon, we're threatened by Iran we're threatened by Syria. We're threatened by anyone in the world. I think that we, our leaders not we, the people, need the war.

  • You talked about Zionism as a cause of the conflict. If you are not a Zionist and have the option of living somewhere else, why should you live here, a Jew, whose family is not from here?

    First of all, two of our three children (all middle age) live here, as do six of our eight grandchildren. So even though most of my extended family and one son and his family are in the United States, I have no intention of leaving those who are here. Those who live in the U.S. are safer than those who are here, and I would find it tremendously difficult to be apart from those here if there were another war or other violence. Second, I have many Palestinian friends - close friends. I believe that whatever acts the anti-occupation activists do here, they potentially, in some small way, help the Palestinian's situation from worsening. This is not true for every case, but even if it is for some, I would feel that I'd be leaving a sinking ship if I deserted them. I'm not doing much now apart from endeavoring to inform, but I think that informing, too, is important. Grassroots movements abroad opposing Israel's policies are increasing, and I do believe that all endeavors to inform help bring more individuals to understand what Israel is and what it is doing, and consequently to not support its policies.