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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.

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Adele Zumot

Adele Zumot has been a radio broadcaster at All for Peace Radio since it was established in 2004. All for Peace Radio, a project of Givat Haviva and Biladi, is a joint Palestinian and Israeli radio station that broadcasts in both Arabic and Hebrew. Before joining All for Peace, Adele hosted shows on local Palestinian radio station such as Radio Bethlehem and Love and Peace Radio and trained at the Israel Radio's Arabic service. Her shows address both political and social issues. Adele now works with a team of Palestinian and Israeli radio hosts and producers to expose the various aspects of each side to the other with the aim of reaching mutual understanding.

  • Would you please introduce yourself and what you do?

    My name is Adele Zumot. I was born in Jerusalem. I attended the Rosary school up until my final two years when I moved to Mar Mitri, another school in Jerusalem. I come from the family of a famous actor, Bassam Zumot, who is my father. My love for him and his work led me to this field, and after I finished school, I took a course on press coverage for culture and art at the media center at Bir Zeit University. People from Finland taught the course, which covered broadcasting and interviewing techniques. I wanted to improve those skills, so I joined Radio Bethlehem 2000, a local Palestinian radio station. I used to host entertainment shows, and for three years I hosted a morning show called "Ahla Sabah" which means "most beautiful morning". This show gave me a lot of experience, because I spoke regularly with well-known educational and social personalities in Palestinian society. Before that, I got my training from Israel Radio1 as an assistant producer, so those two positions gave me a chance to gain more experience. After that, I volunteered at the news section in Radio Bethlehem, and while I was reading from the newspaper, I read about All for Peace radio.2

    • 1Refers to the radio station Kol Israel (Hebrew for "Voice of Israel"), which is operated by the Israeli government.
    • 2A radio station broadcasting in Arabic, Hebrew and English with a staff of Israelis and Palestinians. Created in 2003 by the Palestinian organization Biladi, the Jerusalem Times and the Israeli organization Givat Haviva, the Jewish Ara Center for Peace. The Hebrew name for Radio All for Peace is "Radio Col HaShalom," which directly translates into English as Radio All for Peace. The station's Arabic name, "Radio Sawt al-Salaam," however, translates into English as "Radio Voice of Peace," not to be confused with the Israeli radio station operated by A.B. Natan. For information see the Radio All For Peace website at http://www.allforpeace.org/.

  • You had your position in Radio Bethlehem, why would you give it up for something like this?

    I gave up my job at Radio Bethlehem for two reasons. One is that, as everybody knows, since the beginning of the intifada there are military checkpoints at the entrances to all Palestinian cities. So, it was basically the restriction on travel. The checkpoint at the entrance to Bethlehem is a big one, and because I hold a Jerusalem ID, the soldiers would not let me pass to go to work. I started to go into Bethlehem using detours, very bumpy roads, very dangerous, and my car broke down several times. I was also stoned a lot. The Arabs would think that I was Jewish and the Jews would think I was an Arab. Even when I showed them my press pass--I had a Palestinian press pass as a journalist-- they wouldn't even consider letting me through. And so, transportation to and from Bethlehem was a big problem for me.The second reason I left my position, and the most important one, was that as a journalist and media person, I have a duty towards my people, to my people or to the Israelis- we are one nation in the end. I liked the idea of this station and its calls for peace, or at least that it would allow a small number of people to listen to us and to the idea of restoring peace between Israelis and Arabs.

  • How do you think you will be helping your people by doing this work rather than doing something else?

    I will serve my people through this work by telling them things about the Israelis, apart from politics, things that they didn't know before. Jews, like Palestinians, are human beings with feelings; they laugh and they cry. There are a lot of Palestinians who sympathize with the Israelis, as there are Israelis who sympathize with the Palestinians. With simple words and meaningful concepts, outside of politics, we could get through to Palestinians and Israelis to try to reestablish trust.

  • What do you hope will come out of it?

    Inshalla [by God's will] there will be peace. Before the intifada there was a high percentage of Jews and Palestinians that supported peace. With the intifada, that number decreased. The number of people that believed in the idea of peace shrank, so through our own words and expressions we could try to bring those people back to believing in it. We are not trying to make the people that never believed in peace believe in it, but we are working on making the people that once believed in this idea believe in it again; nothing more.

  • As a journalist, do you have any problems with certain topics, specifically touching politics?

    Every journalist who wants to be successful will talk about politics, but it is the way he talks about it that either causes him to fail or makes him succeed. We will not go in depth about politics, because all other media are covering it. So, in order for us to be unique and to give the best show to our targeted listeners, we will not go into politics very much. While this is how we work at the station, as a journalist I will not give up on politics--it is the air we breathe and the food we eat. We will try in other ways to talk about it--mentally, socially, and psychologically-- in a way that will help both the Palestinian and the Israeli to believe in living together again.

  • Have you ever worked in this situation before, with Arabs and Jews?

    No. I worked more with the Palestinians. I got my training in Radio Israel. I faced difficulties in the beginning working with Palestinians and Israelis together, but I am happy in my job because there is a goal.

  • How was your experience there [Radio Israel]?

    I didn't work there; I volunteered to get training so that I would have access to other stations afterwards. My father used to work there at the time, and I used to help him and help Marlene Bajjali3 and Iman El Qasem in production. I thought that I would be able be on air but that didn't happen. Fortunately, when I joined Radio Bethlehem 2000 my dream came true. I passed their test... and since then I am trying to improve myself.

    • 3Marlene Bajali is a Palestinian Israeli radio host and actress, who most recently appeared in the internationally acclaimed Israeli film "The Syrian Bride" (2004). For a filmography of Bajjali's work see http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0048006/.

  • What were the things you were most proud of doing at Radio Bethlehem?

    The best thing I accomplished at Radio Bethlehem was working in the news section. The topics were not easy at the time, especially with the beginning of the intifada. The work I am most proud of at Radio Bethlehem took place during the invasions and curfews.4 I used to make reports by phone because no one could get to the station. The phone was open all the time so that I could tell the people what was happening around them and what the political situation was like. We have also done a lot for the children; we used to help needy children and orphans. We used to help them emotionally and physically.

    • 4Refers to the Israeli incursion into the West Bank city of Bethlehem in April/May 2002 as part of the Israeli army's "Operation Defensive Shield." See "Bethlehem Comes Back to Life, BBC News Online, 11 May 2002 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1981095.stm. For information on the practice of curfews, see B'Tselem's (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) "Restrictions of Movement" section at http://www.btselem.org/English/Freedom_of_Movement/Index.asp.

  • How did you come to be engaged in tackling the conflict?

    As long as you live in Israel and Palestine, there is no way that you don't care about the conflict. The first time I felt that I really needed to do something about the conflict was when I opened the Al-Quds newspaper and saw on the front page a picture of a little girl named Iman Hijjo, who was killed by a missile two years ago.5 I opened more pages of the same newspaper, and I read about a bus bombing in Israel. There was another little boy who lost his eye because of the explosion. I looked at the two children's stories and I thought to myself, we have a problem. There are children on both sides that are dying. As an individual Palestinian or Israeli, you won't be able to influence the governments, but you can feel that you are being effective by being part of an organization or project that works to restore trust between the two peoples.

    • 5 A four-month old Palestinian infant killed by Israeli military fire on the Khan Yunis Refugee Camp on the Gaza Strip in May of 2001. See "4-Month-Old Baby is Youngest Victim," Ha'aretz Daily Newspaper, Tel-Aviv, Israel, 8 May 2001.

  • What are the greatest challenges you face in your work?

    I am not challenging anyone; I am trying to deliver a message. The challenge is to get an extreme right-winger to talk to a station that is talking about peace, a station that is composed of a Palestinian and Israeli team that are working for peace. The challenge is in convincing extremists that oppose all kinds of joint work including organizations that promote peace, to talk on the radio station knowing that it is a joint Palestinian Israeli project working for the promotion of peace.

  • Do you consider your work to be promoting peace?

    Of course, since we are two equal Palestinian and Israeli crews working together, it definitely means we are promoting peace. Even if you ignore the content, just by looking at the context one can see that if a Palestinian crew and an Israeli crew could work together under one roof, it means there is a chance for peace. There is a light that will give us hope for something bigger.

  • What does the word peace mean to you?

    It is the state of no war, simply. Peace means no war. It means life and death; if there is no war, there are no deaths and there is peace, there is life. Peace is everything. Personally I dream of peace and living it. I grew up hearing about it, but all I could see was fighting over this and that, giving up here and there-- this is what created the whole mess of the conflict. So for me peace means no war.

  • Did you ever have doubts that you are on the right track? Why did you choose to work here and not elsewhere?

    In broadcast journalism, a professional journalist delivers a message via the piece of news that he or she reads. It is not just about reading the news; there should be a message behind the work. I think there isn't a more noble and more beautiful message than the one I am trying to deliver, which is the message of peace, a message to restore the lost trust between two peoples.

  • Has anything surprised you about working there?

    I was surprised by a lot of things that I learned about the Israeli people that, as a Palestinian, I never knew. And those things are what we [All for Peace] want to express to both peoples. For example,the use of violence against women in the family— there is a fairly high percentage among Palestinians of women who have been exposed to domestic violence. I did not know that there was also such high percentage of women in Israel. So by working together with Israelis to bring out this topic in the best way, I got to know that more than 35 to 40 percent of Israeli women are exposed to domestic violence and we were able to limit this among them. Working together enabled us to see this comparison. I am one of the Palestinian women that did not know that there was such a high percentage of women in Israel that were exposed to domestic violence-- even more than in the Palestinian society.

  • Did your work here come as a surprise for you or for people around you?

    I grew up in a home that believed in peace education, coexistence and acceptance of others. That's why it didn't surprise my family or even myself. When I worked at the Palestinian station, I used to cover those topics as well, so it wasn't new to me. I had different Palestinian and Israeli guests and I always focused on what was happening behind the scenes; meaning "what is going to happen next," "what is the solution," "what are you going to do"...etc.

  • Did working under the same roof with Israelis, as you said, change your relationship with any of your friends or perhaps your former colleagues?

    No, it didn't. Some people appreciated the kind of work I did and the atmosphere I did it in. They thought it was a good idea for a radio station. It didn't change my relationship with anyone, because I didn't come out of an extremist environment that didn't believe in peace education. On the contrary, I grew up in an environment that wanted peace. I can't recall a time any of my family members told me something like, forget it, why do you bother with peace" and so on. Besides, I have a message of peace to my people about peace education and it all falls under the frame of the word "peace." What is peace? It doesn't have to mean that the two people are happily living in one state; they can live in two states in peace or even in one state and still live in peace. A lot of people think that peace should be between the Palestinian and the Israeli governments, but that's not right; there should be peace between the peoples first, then the governments will have to walk behind their peoples.

  • Is it rare for people in your community to be involved in such joint work?

    People in my community are tired of the situation; there is no employment and there is no money, which is very important to be able to live. The wars and the conflicts that are going on between the two peoples are responsible for this situation. Some may not approve of "peace" but will work for it for personal benefits, while some believe in peace and work for it for the benefit of all.

  • Did you feel your sense of belonging change?

    No, I will always belong to my people and nothing will change that, because I feel the suffering that my people go through.

  • How has the Palestinian-Israeli conflict affected your life?

    I don't think there is anyone that is not affected by the conflict. Both Palestinians and Israelis have been affected greatly by the conflict but of course in different ways. The intifada has affected each of us living here a great deal. I had a great job in Radio Bethlehem for five years, but ever since the intifada started I've had trouble entering Bethlehem on a daily basis. Every time I tried to go in, I would have to face the soldiers and all the trouble of having permits. They would check my car and give me a hard time for being a Palestinian journalist from Jerusalem trying to get into Bethlehem. Of course, everything around us affects us, such as the victims we see on TV. Don't you think that seeing them has an impact? It definitely affects even the toughest person.

  • Did you have to give up anything to be able to do this work, and what is the highest personal price that you pay?

    I don't want to lose my life for peace. I don't want to lose my life to achieve something that even the people that are greater than me couldn't achieve. But I am sacrificing my time; I leave my home for long hours to do this work, which aims at promoting peace and is for the good of the public, not me personally.

  • What do you personally gain from this work?

    I gain fame. When you do something related to peace education, media plays a big role, and this is what I am trying to tell the public. There is media coverage about the number of victims but there is no media coverage about peace education, so this is the most important thing I am trying to do.

  • What do you consider a small victory?

    A small victory is when you get an extremist from either side to speak to you on a radio station that calls for peace, regardless of what he talks about while he's on. I consider it to be a great victory just getting him on the show.

  • What inspires you?

    The images of the victims and the suffering that the Palestinians are enduring are what urge me and motivate me to continue my work.

  • Did your work get you to meet someone or go to places that you wouldn't have otherwise?

    My work got me to meet politicians. I try to interview well-known politicians in order to get a certain message across. This gives me more exposure, more publicity, and I get to meet and know more people that you normally just see on TV.

  • What are the most important lessons that you learned from your work?

    I knew a lot about the Israeli people even before I worked here, but now I think I got to deeper levels with Israelis. I learned a lot of new things about the Israeli society and am trying to tell Palestinians about it. I want them to know that the Israelis are not only the people sitting in tanks, or behind guns, and they are not just the mean soldiers at the checkpoint; there are a lot of good Israelis, there are a lot of them that support the Palestinian cause. At the same time, we try to deliver the same message about Palestinians to the Israelis.

  • What is the most important thing for you to achieve for your country and people?

    Peace. What I am doing is only good for bringing peace. I alone won't be able to bring peace or make the two sides sit down and negotiate, but by passing your voice along with your ideas you are able to consolidate peace education, not only for the Palestinian people but for the Israeli and Arab people as a whole. I think that we need such topics to be featured on the radio to serve the purpose of peace.

  • Do you think there will be peace in our lifetime?

    It is hard to tell. I call this the land of surprises. There are always surprises and things are happening and changing all the time. I've been hearing the word peace ever since I was a child, but I hope it will come in my lifetime.

  • So you think you've never lived in peace?

    Never. Maybe I have lived in peace within my family and my community. The word peace also means freedom; as long as there is no freedom to travel and move around to see your family in Bethlehem or Ramallah, then you are not living in peace.

  • What do you think the next five or ten years will look like?

    I cannot tell, I don't even know what will happen tomorrow on the political level. We keep using the word "Inshallah" but we don't know how much that word could serve the people.

  • Do you have hope?

    Of course, why not, if there was no hope then all the people would have left this country, but they are staying because they have hope.

  • What depresses you?

    Wars, locally and world-wide. People that have gone through the bitterness of war can empathize with other people that are going through it. Hearing the word war depresses me as well as all the words associated with it: missiles, shelling, bombs, airplanes. It’s all depressing.

  • Which international audience has the greatest influence in the conflict?

    I think each is only seeking its own good. It is common for people to get involved in a self-interested way, but no one says, "Hey those people are suffering, let me help." I am talking about governments, because there are a lot of people around the word that support the cause of peace in our country. The difficulty is how much of an impact those people have on their governments.There are a lot of people that donated money and aid for the Palestinian Authority, but funding and sending donations is not enough. What would money do for a mother that lost her son? How will it ever make up for her loss? We need somebody to put an end to this, we need the whole world to stand together and stop Israel, and if that happens I don't think Israel can say no to them. But I don't see any pressures on Israel to stop its invasions and destruction of the Palestinian Authority areas.

  • What would your message be to those people that have influence?

    I would just tell them to wake up. I mean, they can see what we are going through. I think there is enough media coverage about what we are going through and how we are suffering. And it is not only the Palestinians that are suffering; there are a lot of Israelis suffering, too. The economical situation has broken down. Of course, it is many times worse for the Palestinians, but still, the Israelis have suffered economical set-backs as well. Their people are also afraid to go out on the street or be in populated areas or crowded markets. They are afraid to leave their homes not knowing whether they would come back or not.

  • So you think fear plays a role?

    Of course. Every time I want to go to Bethlehem to visit my aunt or other family members or my friends, I am afraid that the soldier at the checkpoint will shoot at me. So of course I will think a thousand times before I consider going.

  • Do you think the fears of Palestinians and Israelis are the same?

    What is happening in the Palestinian Territories is definitely more than what is happening in Israel. However, the Israelis are also afraid of the bombings that happen inside Israel; even the soldier at the checkpoint is afraid, terrified. The soldier at the checkpoint that terrifies thousands of people is terrified himself.

  • What is the greatest misconception international and local audiences have about the conflict?

    Locally, I don't think there is anybody that doesn't know what the Palestinians and the Israelis are going through. But internationally and in the Arab world, it's different. I think they are very much affected by what they see in the media, even though it shows only a portion of what is going on. At least people have an idea about what is happening. The thing they don't really know is the amount of suffering that is going on. They only show numbers of people killed but they don't show a family that is not able to even get milk for their children. There is poverty in Israel and Palestine, but there is no story in the media about a family in Nablus that is unable to provide food for its children. People don't think about what pushes young men to blow themselves up. It's not only because they want to kill Israelis and make them suffer; they have personal motives. They have a fire burning inside them and they don't care about themselves anymore.

  • What is the greatest misconception about your work?

    There are people on both sides that we contact for interviews, for example, that reject the idea of a joint station. However this does not stop me or discourage me. On the contrary, it makes me even more insistent to show those people that I am doing the right thing, that we are people working for peace and that one day they will live in the peace that I am working for.

  • Were there people that called this kind of work normalization?

    Of course we hear that a lot, but I don't care about what people say. My goal is to consolidate peace education. I want to pass the message of peace, not only to the governments but also to the average people, the average Palestinian that suffered and is tired of this conflict. I want them to think twice about the reason this cycle is not ending.

  • What do you think the roots of the conflict are?

    It is very obvious to everyone, and so I don't need to lecture about it. I don't remember that far back because I am not very old. I don't even remember the first intifada very well. I only remember what I lived through, and the most vivid memory I have is of the second intifada, because before that I was only a school girl, and I don't think school girls leave their homework to watch the news. I remember before the second intifada started, while I was working at Love and Peace radio station, people were talking about Sharon's intention to enter the Aqsa mosque, which is considered an act of provocation. I think this was the cause for the escalation and expansion of the cycle of violence. I can only tell you about the recent events, but I don't need to talk about the roots because everybody knows them. Generally I think 1948 was the beginning. Perhaps it goes back to what Hitler did to the Jews, causing them to flee Europe and come to Israel.