Chat Transcript: Jewish and Arab Israeli Discuss Recent Violence

ByABC News
October 11, 2000, 11:17 AM

Oct. 11 -- Neighbor vs. neighbor, Israeli vs. Israeli. Recent violence between Israelis and Palestinians has taken an even more complicated twist as clashes between Israeli Jews and Muslim Israeli Arabs becomes increasingly commonplace. Palestinians have blamed Israel for the violence, which first flared after a visit to a Jerusalem holy site revered by Muslims and Jews by Israeli right-wing politician Ariel Sharon. To date, at least 90 peoplemostly Palestinianshave been killed since fighting began late last month.

Power brokers U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and President Clinton are playing central roles in trying to seal a peace deal between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Joining us online today in a chat was Dr. Mordechai Bar-On, former chair of the New Israel Fund (a nonprofit group dedicated to funding Israeli grassroots organizations working to build a more just and tolerant Israel) and Jafar Farah, director of Mosawa, the Advocacy Center for Palestinian Citizens of Israel. Below is a transcript of the chat.

Moderator at 11:09am ET

Learn more about the current conflict in the Mideast by going to our special index called A Fractured Peace.

Moderator at 2:05pm ET

Welcome Mr. Farah.

Jafar Farah at 2:08pm ET

My name is Jafar Farah, and I am working for the Mosawa Center, and it means "equality" in Arabic. It's an advocacy center for the Arab-Palestinian citizens in Israel. We are talking about 20% of the population in Israel of Palestinian citizens, about 1 million Palestinians [who], since 1948, are citizens of Israel. Not equal, but we are citizens in our homeland. This organization works with changing governmental policy and political participation, and participation in legislation procedures, and capacity building for NGO's and local councils, capacity building mainly in advocacy. We don't deal with the Israeli courts, we deal more with public policy. We don't go to the courts in any case.

Sandra Tamari at 2:08pm ET

What do you think of Azmi Bishara's demand that the U.N. send in a commission or troops to protect the Palestinian citizens of Israel?

Jafar Farah at 2:09pm ET

It's needed you know. We already have thirteen people killed-- thirteen citizens killed by policemen, and about 530 people injured. Four of them are in a dangerous situation in the hospital. It's needed, yes. All these police were shooting people that participate in demonstrations in villages inside Israel. Civilians, we are talking about. Yes, we need protection. I don't think that anybody will answer to this question, nobody will send any protection to us. But there is a need for international help and support for our struggle. And it's mainly a civil rights struggle.

Arnold Kling from at 2:10pm ET

What kind of people are the Palestinians? What kind of people cannot accept a visit to a site without staging a violent riot? What kind of people send children out next to armed gunman firing at military posts?

Jafar Farah at 2:13pm ET

The Palestinians are people who are, since 1948, paying the price of the dream of the Jewish people to have independent country. The Palestinians are people that pay the price and live since '48 in refugee camps. The Palestinians are people that want to live in their homeland. More than half of the Palestinians left in '48 with the keys of the doors of their houses. And since that time they are living in refugee camps with the keys to the doors of their houses-- the majority of these houses become now the houses of Jewish people. There are the Palestinians. Nobody sent his children to throw stones. People tried to struggle with stones to defend himself. The Palestinians don't usually have helicopters, don't have F-6, and don't have any serious weapon. The Palestinians are a people that try to solve their problem that was created since '48. And I have to remind that the U.N. decision in '47 was for two countries for two peoples, the Jewish people and the Palestinian people, in the homeland of the Palestinians. This decision was to solve the problem of the Jewish people that suffered from Nazism, and Russism and Fascism in Europe. The Holocaust that the Jewish people suffered from in Europe, we pay the price of it.

Jafar Farah at 2:14pm ET

The Holocaust that the Jewish people were suffering from in Europe was solved mainly by creating a Jewish country for the Jewish people. But it was created on our homeland, Palestine. And now after 52 years, the only possible solution to the conflict is to have two independent countries, one we'll call Israel and one we'll call Palestine. And we the Palestinians inside Israel will still be citizens, will stay here in Israel as citizens. And this is the only possible solution.

Moderator at 2:15pm ET

What makes the latest violence so different from the many other bouts of unrest?

Jafar Farah at 2:17pm ET

Yes this violence is different mainly because of the response of the Israeli government. And also because of the unclear situation of the Middle East. When I say unclear, I mean unclear in the peace process. This 52 years of discrimination, with 52 years of not having peace with the Palestinian people, will arrive to this result, will take us to this result actually. Now this is the difference also, that we are in the middle of peace process, that in the last two years didn't take us anywhere. The situation now that the Israelis have interior discussion, like they discuss the future of the Middle East between themselves--not with partners, [by whom] I mean the Palestinians in Israel, the Palestinians on the West Bank, and also the Palestinians in refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt.

M.L.Wheeler from at 2:19pm ET

Mr. Farah, if the U.N. sent forces and those forces came under fire from protesters and those U.N. forces killed Palestinians children while defending themselves, wouldn't the situation just get worse?

Jafar Farah at 2:21pm ET

I hope that no forces will kill children. I hope that any forces, including U.N. forces, will protect civilians and protect their right to protest. I expect that also the Israeli forces will not use violence and live bullets, and we have live bullets here against civilians. Also if they use stones and any way of expressing themselves, it's not war. War is when both sides use guns and war machines. Palestinians are using mainly, especially in Israel, stones.