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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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Yana Knopova

Yana Knopova immigrated to Israel from the Ukraine in 1996 through a Jewish youth program. She is the coordinator of Coalition of Women for Peace, an umbrella organization for nine Israel-based women's organizations working to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and emphasizing the importance of women in building peace. Through the Russian-speaking sector and organizations such as Ahoti [my sister], the Coalition also empowers women in Israel's minority social groups to work for peace and justice.

  • Please tell me a little about yourself and how you became involved in the work you are doing now.

    I'm from the Ukraine, from Kiev. I used to be a Zionist activist. I was an instructor at the Jewish club in Kiev. I led seminars with students and organized all kinds of activities since I was very young. At the age of 15 I came with the Na'aleh project,1 young people who immigrate to Israel ahead of their parents. I arrived at the immigrant youth village Yitzhak.2 When I was 18 I went to the army where I was a guide for Na'aleh, I was a guide for the project on Kibbutz Amir.3 After that I went to the University of Haifa.4 I'm graduating this year. That's the non-political life, and the Zionist one. I worked for the Jewish Agency's department of tourism until two years ago. I was a tour guide there until I reached an ideological impasse where I couldn't take it anymore, despite the high salary. Having been active in Ta'ayush, I was offered to join the Coalition of Women for Peace and be their coordinator. I applied for the position and was accepted. I'm the coordinator for the Coalition of Women for Peace, a coalition of women's peace organizations in Israel. I began nearly two years ago. I coordinate all joint activities and assist the organizations in coordinating their own activities. I deal with various administrative issues. I brainstorm about ideas and campaigns and projects.

    • 1Naaleh is an acronym in Hebrew for Noar Oleh Lifne Hahorim, which translates as "youth immigrating [to Israel] before their parents." The goal of the organization is to encourage young Jewish people from around the world to move to Israel and to be a catalyst for bringing their parents after them. The program, which brings in youth to receive a high school education in Israel, was originally formed in 1992 to give children from the former Soviet Union a Jewish education in Israel, since then the program has expanded to include Jewish youth from many other countries. See http://www.partner.org.il/arad/news-0207-naale.html and http://www.boystownjerusalem.com/pr111803-naale.htm
    • 2The youth village Aloney-Yitzhak is located near the city of Ceasaria in Israel. It is a residence and school designed to absorb young Jewish immigrants to Israel.
    • 3Located in the Upper Galilee region of Israel. A kibbutz is a community established by and for Jews based on communal property, in which members have no private property but share the work and the profits of some collective enterprise, typically agricultural but sometimes also industrial. Initially founded on socialist ideals and currently located by and large in Israel, many kibbutzim (plural for kibbutz) have become privatized in the last few decades.
    • 4One of the major universities in Israel. Haifa is a city on the Mediterrranean Sea in the North of Israel, with a population of approximately 266,000, comprising Palestinian Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel.

  • Why is it frustrating to do the administrative work?

    Because I can't really take part in the struggle. I further many important struggles, personally, but some other woman gets to carry them out. I haven't protested against the wall in Palestine in over a year! And I want to! Sure, I've organized many activities of the sort, I've supported many activities, fueled them, been in the background. Sat at home and made calls...But I feel that personally I missed out on some things. But these things need to be done too.

  • What made you become active in Ta'ayush?

    I was always active. I don't think that anything had changed, maybe only the field of activism. I had always been active in minorities' struggles for rights. [In the Ukraine] it was the Jewish minority. Now it's the minority that's changed, the current minority is the Palestinians. I'm much more aware of women's issues now; it's the issue I deal with most nowadays. I think that in most places around the world, not only in the former Soviet Union, the most prominent and common and disliked type of feminism is liberal feminism. I didn't know about other forms of feminism and so I myself wasn't a feminist because it was always connected to the issue of liberalism. The moment I discovered radical feminism I became very enthusiastic! I think I became active in Ta'ayush during Operation Defensive Shield, three years ago. During Operation Defensive Shield, Yossi Sarid denounced those who refused to fight conscientious objectors. I had always been convinced that Meretz was as far Left as you could go! I was positive! I thought I was farther Left but there didn't seem to be any farther to go, so what could I do? When Yossi Sarid denounced the objectors, he immediately lost my support. Then I noticed there was going to be a meeting about conscientious objectors at my university, so I went to the meeting and at the end of the meeting Hanna Safran1 stood up and said, "Look at us, such enlightened, left-wing people and look who's at the podium - a man, another man, somebody's wife, and somebody else's mother. It's best if it's a bereaved mother, obviously one's judgment is altered after a loved one dies." I approached Hanna afterwards and told her I agreed with her. She said they had a Ta'ayush group there, and that's how I got started. I got involved right at the beginning of Operation Defensive Shield. People don't remember this anymore but during Operation Defensive Shield people were extremely active, 1 times more than they are now. There was a sense of urgency. We organized 8 demonstrations in 2 days; it was crazy! That was when I really got involved and got to know all the women. It's difficult in Ta'ayush to stop. It took me a long time to stop. It requires much more intensive activity than the other organizations. In Ta'ayush people are active 24 hours a day. It's crazy, that's why there are so few key activists. That's why they get so worn out. After a year or so in Ta'ayush I was knocked out, emotionally and financially, in every sense. You can't find the time to get things done besides the activities. When I came to Ta'ayush I was a Zionist, even though I already sensed that there was something wrong with my version. Slowly I became disillusioned. It was a very painful process, and I dealt with it for a long time. It took me some 8 months to reach a point where I could say I wasn't a Zionist anymore. It was very interesting as a process. It all started with the issue of whether to join the Uprooted and Right of Return Conference, and to come to their march. One of our members, Aisha said, "If you don't come with me, you're not with me." I felt that what she was saying was true, even if I didn't know why, and didn't know much of anything. The entire process was getting familiarized with the Nakba, with '48 in general, a process of learning about the other side's grief. That was the beginning. From that moment I started the process of not being a Zionist.

    • 1The Chairperson of the Women's Studies Department at the University of Haifa, and a champion of women's rights and human rights.

  • What do you think is the most vital area currently in need of investment?

    For me today, empowering of all the different voices of women's anti-Occupation activism is what's most important. I feel that this can promote the struggle best. We also fundraise for the organizations so that they can initiate various activities accordingly.

  • What are the advantages to the Coalition being exclusively run by women?

    It's not. There are at least two organizations in which men participate: Women in Black and New Profile. But only women participate in our meetings. Look, there is a lot to it. Mixed meetings are more aggressive, there is less emphasis on what others [in the group] think, and usually it is the case that Ashkenazi men don't really identify the existence of an "other". It's not because of bad intentions. It's important to remember that the strong can go through life never noticing the weak. The weak have no choice but to see the strong. A Palestinian in Israel cannot go through life without constantly seeing Jews everywhere, there is no choice in the matter. A Jew in Israel can, however, live in Ramat Hasharon1 or Tel-Aviv 2 without ever seeing an Arab. Ever. For that reason we always raise this issue in the studies we support.

    • 1A city of around 50,000 people, the majority of whom are Jewish Israelis, in the Sharon area of Israel to the north of Tel Aviv. The city is effectively a suburb of Tel Aviv.
    • 2An Israeli city on the Mediterranean Sea, about 64 km west of Jerusalem. Est. population 350,000.

  • How do you think your work contributes to building peace?

    The Coalition was formed on account of the sense that we as women have a unique voice. The Coalition's existence strengthens organizations by empowering them and marketing them. That was the intention before its formation and I'm very satisfied with the result. There's another aspect of the Coalition nowadays: it supports minority groups of women, such as Russian and Mizrachi women. We hope to support a group of Ethiopian1 women, too. I think that's a wonderful aspect, because the Coalition, like many other left-wing organizations in Israel, started out on the level of middle class Ashkenazi women and middle class Palestinian women. Currently we're undergoing a process of disillusionment; our principles are expanding, as are our social views, and the radical aspect is growing and becoming more profound. Our link to other struggles is getting stronger, larger and more profound. I'm very excited about this process. I hope I've contributed to it in some way. I think that [the linking of our struggle with other struggles] is what is going to solve this conflict in the end. My views aren't based at all on the conflict with the Palestinians. That conflict is one of many symptoms of a badly put together world. It's a patriarchal system, aggressive, horrible, based on specific economic interests.That's where our vision of the solution lies. We think that whoever promotes the notion of a two-state solution holds a capitalist view. All the factories will move to Palestine, workers there will not have any social protection and will be used by the Israeli upper class while all the Palestinian-Israelis, Mizrachi people, and whoever works in the factories now will be left jobless. There is an upper class that benefits in Palestine too, but also in Israel. For me there is no view that furthers the existence of two states but an economic confederation. Economically speaking, we should be under joint jurisdiction, which would not threaten workers on both sides and would improve the status of workers in Palestine. Do I think the Coalition influences the struggle? Mostly yes. Do I feel that I in particular influence the struggle? During the first year I felt like I had a lot of influence in the struggle, me personally, but since the organization has been growing, and has gotten so big, I have much more administrative work, dirty work; it's frustrating.

    • 1Thousands of Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel by the Israeli government in the 1980's and early 1990's. See the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews http://www.iaej.co.il/pages/history_operation_solomon.htm.

  • What would you want to be doing?

    Me? Hopping on walls and fences, protesting. Really, I enjoy that a lot more. It's also a matter of what has impact. I think that a few things can make a difference. If you can organize a critical mass of people, then a stationary demonstration can have impact. If you have 5, people, a demonstration can do the job. The Coalition once got a 5, person demonstration together, it was very good. Nowadays the numbers fall. Nobody can get 5, people anymore, so now we move on to alternative options. There are two choices, but not many options. A critical mass means demonstrations, banners everywhere, stickers everywhere. The second option is the long-term processes. The Coalition is investing in some, such as the tours of the separation wall project, the project with the Russian sector; these are long-term processes. It makes a difference. I believe in the processes and the projects, like the project Ahoti, which has our financial support.

  • Tell me about what you're doing with the Russian sector and Ahoti.

    We met about a year ago, 9 months maybe, a group of Russian women, left-wing feminists. When we started there were two or three of us - Vera, Ina and I. Vera is active in Ta'ayush, Ina is in Black Laundry, which is made up of gays and lesbians against the Occupation. I thought we were all alone. We started looking, and came up with 1 people. Now when we search we find more. It's a great project, I think, because now I don't feel I'm all alone anymore.

  • Why did you think you were alone?

    The Russian sector appears to be very racist. I wouldn't say it's necessarily by choice. The Russian media is extremely problematic; it leads people in certain directions. For a long time I thought Russians were "born" racist, but then I worked for the Jewish Agency's tours project and saw that there are so many people from there, left-wingers, right-wingers, radicals. What is problematic is the absorption process for the immigrants here. It begins with the Jewish Agency's tours, then the Russian media, and then their sons are drafted into the army. So we meet in order to organize a group. It's a long and tiring process, but very interesting. I think that groups must undergo a process of self-composition before they can integrate with other groups. Moreover, I think that disadvantaged groups have to undergo their own processes and not be integrated into other groups. I think that other groups will emerge, and will remain apart until they initiate some sort of dialogue with other groups.Inclusion has never worked. Take Ta'ayush for example. It's a Jewish-Arab partnership with two Arabs per branch! What for? It doesn't work. It's a process. The intentions are good, but the process is as follows: there are good intentions; it all begins with the best of intentions! After that start you have the unequal numbers of Arabs and Jews, and the Ashkenazi Jews, mostly men, who are more eloquent speakers, for example, take up more space in the discussions, and influence it more than the Palestinians or Mizrachis or women or any other group. Secondly, who makes the decisions during the meetings? Who does the scheduling? There are more Jews so they do the schedule. I should mention that the Palestinians endure harsher financial constraints than the Jews, and it's evident. These organizations have Jews that are professors and Palestinians who are working class. How long can a person hold it together? The professors can contribute their time, make phone calls, but the working class people have to work. Now, there are Palestinian professors, but each of them has their own non-profit organization. While it appears to be an interclass encounter, however unequal, it doesn't work by definition. Ultimately the groups remain homogeneous, and homogeneous minority groups also form, allegedly adapted to those minorities' needs. A group of Mizrachis, lesbian-Palestinians, a group of Russians. From within these groups there can be a more equal inter-group dialog. If individuals are forced together, then the dominant voice will always control the group. These unions don't work, but when you stand with your budget versus theirs, vision versus vision, then there's a way to talk. There's room for cooperation, it's less within the groups and more on the level of coalitions. A coalition like ours is problematic because it's no longer merely a coalition. It's an organization by its own right, a long-term coalition, and the dominant voices are Ashkenazi. That isn't bad by definition; it's only bad when people aren't aware of it. I'm not opposed to men holding a conference called "The Future of Men in the Middle East 25" and not inviting any of us. I'd be the first to turn them down. I think there's room for the issue of groups versus inter-group relations. The problems emerge when people don't understand that. It happens when certain activities they undertake are privileged, and they think they represent the rest. The Coalition underwent a long process and the outcome is that we don't presume to represent everybody. We asked Ahoti if they would be willing to lead a project in the South. We don't represent Mizrachi women, but there is an organization that does. I think it's a unique understanding that no other Ashkenazi organization on the Left has reached, a step in understanding that it says we don't know it all, even though we think we do.

  • Do you think having fewer mixed groups in the Coalition is a problem?

    No, not at all. I think it's a good process. I think that the problem is that there will be mixed groups. The Oslo Accords pushed many coexistence groups into being. As one of our members likes to tell us, she had a coexistence meeting when she was at school and the Palestinians wanted to talk about the Nakba while the Jews wanted to do belly dancing. Enough. That period is over and I think it's for the best. I think that one good thing the intifada and the events of October 2 did was that now at least we know what we're up against. At least I learned [the lesson]; I hope I'm not addressing people that want to eat hummus with Palestinians and think that's the way to bring peace. It doesn't work that way. Nowadays the "togetherness" is completely different, it comes from one's group and inter-group interaction from the point of self-empowerment, from one's own special position. This interaction towards togetherness doesn't take place within the group but from within my group vis-à-vis another group. I think that's a good thing. Palestinian women are coming forward as a group and claiming their share, and the Mizrachi women come as another group to claim their share. Of course, the pie belongs to the Ashkenazis by default. That's how it is all over the place, not only here. The pie belongs to white males, and if there are none, then to white females. The question remains whether the organizations are aware of the fact that the pie really doesn't belong to any one group but to everybody, to the cause. I think that the Coalition is revolutionary in that and deserves praise. I think that's what's most important. Donors give money to fight the Occupation or for women's rights or whatever. People don't recognize the differences; donors in the States can't see the difference. They contribute to the cause, they can't differentiate between Gush Shalom, the Coalition of Women for Peace, Ta'ayush, Isha L'Isha.1 Our question is: how do the funds we receive serve the struggle. Not, we-grabbed-the-money-and-put-together-a-struggle! Where is the struggle most vital, where will it benefit from the funds? It's not our money, it's money we received in order to promote the struggle.

    • 1[Literal translation from Hebrew, "Woman to Woman"] A feminist organization based in Haifa that was set up in the 1980s to help the victims of human trafficking, a recurrent problem in Israel. See http://www.jfjfp.org/links2a.htm

  • And what do you think you can do now, from the point of division into groups, what power does that hold now?

    I think that the power is larger in reaching out to different audiences. Because it's a mirage, an illusion - people thinking that if they work together the sum will be larger. It isn't true. That kind of work yields to the voice of hegemony. The Coalition speaks in so many voices that it's bound to reach more people; people can relate to the different voices and find their own.

  • What joint work can be done with Palestinians, which goals do you share? And what has to be done in separate groups?

    I think that our goal, together with the Palestinian groups, is women's liberation and ending the Occupation. That's why we work together and focus on the goal of women's empowerment. There's the project for children that we ran during the summer, against the Occupation. We organize joint campaigns and plan our strategies together. But the Coalition mainly targets the Israeli public. We believe that our function is to target the Israeli public, but we are also active abroad. It will take a lot for people here to change; our work abroad is to prevent a disaster from occurring when things reach the state they are in today, like in Gaza. This morning I felt like we needed to approach international agencies. We are on the verge of something so huge that in order to prevent a disaster at this particular moment I think we should approach international agencies. On the other hand, the big changes, a better world, will occur at some point locally.

  • What are your expectations from Israeli society?

    Personally I am loosing my patience. I understand the people of Sderot for being scared when Qassam rockets fall nearby, but still, comparing that with children in Khan Younis who have one-ton bombs falling on them is an exaggeration. The nerve of these people who marched from Sderot to Khan Younis!1 It's just too much. Every month 1 children die there! I don't believe residents of Sderot initiated the march; it's extreme right-wing activists who took along a few residents and marched to Khan Younis. That's an example of the kind of thing that annoys me most. What do I hope will happen? To dream for a moment, I hope that the Arab Jews in Israel will demand separation from the Ashkenazi establishment and make peace with the Christian and Muslim Arabs.

    • 1The march on January 18, 2005 was actually intended to go from Sderot to Beit Hanoun, another area in the Gaza Strip. Led by Sederot Mayor Eli Moyal and visiting Likud Knesset Member Ehud Yatom, the march was organized in response to the killing of a 17-year-old girl by a Qassam Rocket and was aimed in part to pressure the Israeli government to take action against the Palestinians. The Israeli army stopped the march before they reached Palestinian territory.

  • Can you explain the term "Arab Jews"?

    Mizrachis. People who came from the Arab countries, just as I am Russian, a Russian Jew, but still Russian. What happened is that 5 years ago the establishment said their culture was negative, that Arab equals negative. Nowadays I think we're witnessing a revival of the Arab Jewish identity among what is termed Mizrachi people. I think that they have the key to true peace, a kind of peace that is right for the Middle East, a peace that will be achieved by Arab Jews and Christian and Muslim Arabs. It's an inter-Arab issue and the state here will be an Arab one with minorities: a large Jewish minority, and large Christian Palestinian minority, a Muslim minority, a Bedouin minority, Druze, but it will be an Arab state. With all due respect we won't be able to hold on to this, and I don't even know if there is anyone who truly believes that in 1 years' time there will still be a strange - European - presence in the Middle East. It goes against the course of history.

  • How does the Women's Coalition for Peace fit in to this process?

    It doesn't. We assisted Ahoti in initiating their project. I hope that what I just mentioned is one of their ideas too, but you should talk to them. There's a gap between vision for the future and for the next 1 years. I hope that in 15 years all the countries will cease to exist and we'll all be delighted and capitalism will come to an end! There's a difference between the vision for the next 1 years and what we're doing now and working for because the vision is the maximum you ever expect to achieve. Our vision now, which we believe will benefit everyone most at this point, is a two-state solution. That doesn't represent all the women in the Coalition. It serves as the minimum plan in terms of our vision. But that's subject to change because it became evident you can't move 45, people out of Palestine. Maybe our future vision will include leaving the settlers in Palestine. Personally, I'm all for that because I think that moving them is problematic. If they want to be second-class citizens in Palestine, fine.

  • What do you hope for from Ahoti?

    We don't expect anything, they're not contractors; they are leading there own process that hopefully will effect all the others. At a certain point we understood that we don't know the whole truth; that's very mature, it's not a common revelation. I am stressing this because it hasn't yet happened in any other organization here. The last non-Ashkenazi left-wing organization officially was the Black Panthers1 35 years ago. They were great; I wish for this kind of Left to come back, for that combination of all kinds of struggles. I think Ahoti will represent its own version of truth, and I wonder what it is. I don't know what it will be, I'm awaiting it; they may serve as an alternative to what we talk about, they may not.

    • 1A worldwide organization that began in 1988 when a group of Israeli women held vigils to protest Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since then the organization has spread to other regions of the world, where women hold vigils to protest other forms of violence and war, such as the actions of Serbia during the 1990s. The organization is so named because of its form of demonstration: women wearing black stand together in silent, non-violent vigils. Women in Black.

  • Do you think you have a role in this process?

    My job is to ensure they proceed working on this project without interruption. Ensuring someone else is able to do something is an obligation and an important role. They should lead the process themselves. I think that by enabling the process and by assuming we haven't got all the answers we are demonstrating leadership. Leadership comes in many forms; there are various kinds of leadership. Personally, and I hope this is true for the Coalition today, we don't believe that leadership is about claiming to have the truth and imposing our way. It's enabling other groups to present their position or stance, their truths. Maybe they will be leading us, who knows. That's actually my dream. The conferences I love best are the ones held in Arabic, which are translated into Hebrew for us. I love that. That's why I love Mossawa. They organize conferences and position themselves as universal. I always say that about our conferences - we shouldn't organize conferences and call them "Women's Views on" such and such. We wanted to hold one on women and economics, so we called it "Economics." That's enough. Men would never think to call their conference "Men and Economics," but that's what they do in fact talk about. Why? Because they're the universal, they are general. So when we call our conference "Women and Economics," we're playing their game, saying, "We're the particular, the other, the special symptom, and they're the dominant universal voice." I say we're the universal. I expect a group like Ahoti or Mossawa (the Palestinian Center) to say, "No, no, no! I am the mainstream and not you." I enjoy those conferences most - "Human Rights and I-don't-know-what." Mossawa organizes it and invites Jews, taking care to translate for us into Hebrew! I love it because it shifts the center to the periphery. Claiming ownership of the collective is very important because we as women, even though we're Ashkenazi women, suffer. We have to say "We're the general," not "We aren't women," but "We are women and men."

  • How do you think your own background influences your opinions?

    It's complicated. I'm a Caucasian Ashkenazi woman too. That's a complicated spot to be in, because on the one hand I come from a fairly difficult economic position, which is quite common among Russian immigrants, so I can relate to that. There's also the issue of minorities. I used to be part of the minority [in the Ukraine] and I feel like a minority being a Russian immigrant. On the other hand, now I'm here. Where do I belong? I think that it's easier for me to make the connections, as an immigrant and as a member of the dominant group here.

  • Do you think the Russian population is represented in peace work here?

    No. Why is that? Like I said already, there is a lot of racism, a lot of state propaganda that targets only the Russian sector, and because it's communicated in a language no one else understands, the media have no limits.

  • What are the ways in which you try to approach that sector?

    We assume that the voice exists but that it is unrepresented. It is out there; we found it when we began searching for these women. There are people who think differently from the mainstream and their voice is completely unrepresented. So we assume it does exist but it is unvoiced. We want to find something that already is in existence, not necessarily to construct something from scratch.

  • How does your family feel about your involvement in activities for peace?

    That depends on which part. My mother is left-wing. She's pretty funny; she's an anarchist only she doesn't know it. My grandmother, like all Russian grandmothers who read Russian newspapers, has especially fascist opinions, but she controls herself.

  • Do you give up being part of the Russian community in order to do this work?

    I am part of the Russian community. I think it's a matter of definition. What is the Russian community? It's not one single thing! The dominant voice is a terrible one: homophobic, chauvinist, racist. I believe another Russian community exists, I believe there are different people that simply aren't heard because they haven't got enough money to publicize their opinions. Maybe they just have better jobs so they're not the Russian media journalists who get paid only 2,5 shekels a month. In the group of Russian women I'm very much a Russian, just as I'm Jewish but not part of the mainstream. I have never been part of the mainstream and it doesn't concern me much. The fact is that issues of feminism and colonialism are more general and central, and the occupation belongs to those issues, in my opinion. It's part of the discourse, part of the symptoms; it's not an autonomous concept. There is the anti-colonialist, feminist perspective and that's what my views of the occupation draw on. When I thought it was about the occupation, I said, I can change that, but when it became clear it was this, I said farewell.

  • How does the conflict affect your life?

    The conflict is my life! That's what I deal with on a daily basis, working and volunteering, just participating in an activity, it's my day from dawn to dusk, beginning when I read the morning news. It's everywhere for me. It would be more interesting to ask people who are non-political that question. For me it's everywhere. All my friends are political activists.

  • What does the word peace mean to you?

    Nothing. I'm currently not into peace; I don't need peace, I need justice. The word peace today has negative connotations for me on account of the Oslo Accords. This talk of virtual peace, that everyone will enjoy [inner] peace, it only means that if we shut them [the Palestinians] up there will be peace. I don't want peace, I want justice. Of course I want peace but peace today is a term that is used by everyone. Everyone wants it. Right-wingers want peace too! All the fascists want peace! I don't believe in it. I'm interested in people who seek justice, who want solutions based on justice; peace is the Israeli rhetoric. Palestinian rhetoric talks of liberation, forget about peace. Then they [the Israelis] say they [the Palestinians] don't want peace! Would you debate whether to adopt the Geneva Convention's resolutions with regard to your keepers if you were locked up in jail? Peace is void of content for me. It's very nice to talk of peace today but I'm interested in justice.

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

    I think it's in the rise of nationalism [nation-states] that took place during the 18th century when the national movements blossomed in Europe. The Zionist movement is an outcome of the rise of nationalism: the concept that the Jewish people suddenly needed a state of its own, specifically in Zion. Today the state is based on that concept, that's where its roots are. It seems superficial to me, saying [Zionism] is nationalism; it's not nationalism. Nationalism stems from concepts that have nothing to do with the Jews. It's to do with inter-European development. They [the Ashkenazi Israeli government] dragged the Arab Jews here almost forcefully. They mostly didn't have a choice in the matter. When the Jewish state was established, the [Arab] countries threw them [the Jews] out. Of course anti-Semitism was on the rise [before that], and there was the Holocaust and other matters that all influenced the establishment of the state specifically. Of course the Palestinians didn't like that! I wouldn't enjoy having unexpected company one fine day.

  • Is the existence of the State of Israel important to you?

    I love Israel very much; I think I'm very much a patriot. But I want it to be different, totally. I believe my struggle is motivated by my love for this place. I view the area as my homeland; I've been here for nearly 9 years. I think that people here have forgotten that loving your "homeland" is not connected to Zionism. People confuse the terms. The concept of loving one's homeland is equated with Zionism here in Israel. A person can love the place she lives in without being a Zionist and hope it will one day be based on different principles, on justice and equality. That's what I see; I'm very patriotic. It's very relevant for me, but I can't equate it with Zionism. I think we must differentiate between the terms.