I think that that this whole process revealed the true nature of the so-called liberal Left and its ideology. This really activated the previously subdued radical left-wing. It's no bigger now than it was before, but you can hear its voice now. I also can see it in the groups; it's not that more people now share these beliefs, but since the liberal left wing joined forces with the mainstream and is silent, well then this voice is prominent now. People turn to them for answers, but maybe the left-wing groups will be able to join up and be a more powerful leftist force. I'm optimistic because of all sorts of situations and ventures, and Jews joining Arabs. It's part of what I mentioned earlier. It's a sign of progress. Even among the peace organizations during the current intifada, the fact that an organization like Ta'ayush was established and given an Arabic name, and not like "Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam," which suited that generation's view of equality. Even though it's only symbolic I think it's a very important example that there are Jewish soccer-players on the Bnei-Sahnin soccer team.
It's an Arab team, not a Jewish-Arab one! In the sense that it's totally non-political, it seems easier to make it work, and that's hopeful I think. There are so few examples. The Jews were always initiating things and expecting the Arabs to join and then angry when they wouldn't, and what the implications are...and they were never interested in finding out what the Arabs preferred. And the Arabs would do things but Jews never joined them because it was an Arab activity. I think when it happens on that side that it's very important.
In October 2000 the school here joined the strike organized by the Supreme Monitoring Committee of the Israeli- Arab leadership. It's a committee that includes all of the mayors of the Arab cities in Israel. It's an informal body but it has certain privileges, it's acknowledged by the government, which holds talks with its members. The Prime Minister occasionally negotiates over certain issues with them even though they're not part of the formal establishment. They usually announce demonstrations and other activities. They announce a strike to grieve and protest. Every year the School for Peace joins in the annual strike on Land Day,and goes along with declarations, and people can choose whether to strike or not. A liberal approach, not like "out there" where an Israeli Arab has to call in sick in order to strike on Land Day. October 2000 was the first time the school was officially shut down. It was while we had an Arab principle, and he said the institution is closed-- not that people can decide whether to strike or not. That's a very different approach. It's not the liberal approach where everyone does as he or she wishes, but rather it was Jews joining Arabs in that sense, and it isn't simple. They tried that approach at the school and it didn't really work out, it angered people. It's not an easy move and it caused an uproar among the people there, as though they were afraid it was turning into an Arab school. They are a bigger group there. We're only five staff members running our programs so we can do as we please. But the fact was that we never did it earlier, even though there have been all sorts of strikes in the past, but we just never announced, "The school is closed."
I think things are changing, along the lines of Jews seeing it's not so bad to join Arabs. It's not like you lose your identity and become enslaved to Arafat's authority because of it. The fact that people don't even know what the Supreme Supervising Committee is, well it's not just plain ignorance. It's a matter of knowing that you can join an Arab person and not feel you're swallowed up into their context. It's no simple process. It was surprising and it took me a bit to grasp that something was different this time, because I do join in and go to the demonstrations--it's not that I didn't strike during previous years, but I did choose it on my own. And then suddenly somebody came along and made that decision for me and it was different, it wasn't easy. The outcome is the same either way, but I think it was an important lesson, I think it's a change that the current intifada triggered. And it's not a major change but the things that happen here in the workshops, we see them taking place out there too. It's a kind of experiment in laboratory conditions--it shows what will be happening in the future in real life, but without necessarily influencing it. For example, we could see years ago that the Israeli-Arab sector was gathering its power in the groups before October 2000. And indeed the events of October 2000 proved our diagnosis to be true. We saw it developing over the years, that power relations were shifting, not changing, but the gap was beginning to close, they weren't afraid of saying things, weren't scared of being angry, they demanded their rights in a way they never did before. So when it came up we weren't surprised. It was horrible; even though we weren't surprised, I never thought it could reach such an awful point, but the fact that the police's reaction was so brutal means they were facing real power. It's true that the police are terrible and fascist, but it also means they perceived a real threat. There was strength like there never was before. It's tragic that it had to get to that point, but it isn't surprising. This is the situation. They couldn't put up with things like they had before.