Exploring the Seeds of Today’s Middle East Conflict with Ari Shavit

In this special edition of MetroFocus, author and journalist Ari Shavit joins anchor Jack Ford to discuss the history of the country of Israel – how it came to be, how it has survived, and the threats it faces. His book, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, draws on interviews, historical documents and his own family’s story to examine the complexities and history of the Israeli condition. The interview follows the PBS premiere of the documentary 1913: Seeds of Conflict, which examines the seeds of today’s Middle East conflict, sown in pre-World War I Ottoman Palestine.

Ari Shavit is a leading Israeli columnist and writer. Born in Rehovot, Israel, Shavit served as a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces and studied philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jersualem. In the 1980s he wrote for the progressive weekly Koteret Rashit. In the early 1990s he was chairperson of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and in 1995 he joined Haaretz, where he serves on the editorial board. Shavit is also a leading commentator on Israeli public television.

Read an excerpt from My Promised Land below.

Excerpted from My Promised Land by Ari Shavit Copyright © 2013 by Ari Shavit. Excerpted by permission of Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

TRANSCRIPT

HI. I'M JACK FORD COMING UP NEXT, A SPECIA EDITION OF 'MetroFocus,' A CONVERSATION WITH ARI SHAVIT JOURNALISM, COLUMNIST, AND AUTHOR OF THE BEST SELLER 'MY PROMISED LAND: THE TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY OF ISRAEL.'

WE'LL LOOK AT THE ISSUES FACIN THE MIDDLE EAST, THE HISTORY AND THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL, AND TH PROSPECTS FOR PEACE -- ALL THA COMING UP.

STAY WITH US

FROM THE WORLD'S LEADIN CENTER FOR FINANCE, THE ARTS PUBLISHING, SCIENCE, RESEARCH, MEDIA, INNOVATION, AND MUC MORE, THIS IS 'MetroFocus.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM I PROVIDED BY THE FOLLOWING... CORPORATE FUNDING FO 'MetroFocus' IS PROVIDED BY...

AND WE ARE HONORED TO WELCOME ARI SHAVIT TO OUR PROGRAM.

HIS BOOK, 'MY PROMISED LAND, NOW OUT IN PAPERWORK, IS A HISTORY, THE PERSONAL STORY OF HIS GREAT GRANDFATHER'S ROLE I CREATING A JEWISH STATE AND CHALLENGE TO ISRAELIS AND TO THE WORLD TO CONSIDER HOW TH COUNTRY OF ISRAEL CAME TO BE HOW IT HAS SURVIVED, AND THE THREATS IT FACES CALLED IT 'ONE OF THE MOST NUANCED AN CHALLENGING BOOKS WRITTEN ON ISRAEL IN YEARS.

THE BOOK REVIEWE SAID IT 'READS LIKE A LOVE STORY AND A THRILLER AT ONCE.'

ARI SHAVIT, WELCOME.

I'M DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU HERE TO TALK TO US.

DELIGHTED TO BE HERE.

I WANT TO TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY, '1913: SEEDS OF CONFLICT,' AND THEN GET INTO YOUR BOOK AND SOME OF YOUR THOUGHTS AND IDEAS BUT TO GIVE FOLKS WHO AR WATCHING THIS A BETTER SENSE O YOUR PERSPECTIVE, LET'S STAR OFF WITH YOUR OWN BACKGROUND AND HISTORY.

AND I THINK A GREAT PLACE TO START IS YOUR GREAT GRANDFATHE AND HIS ROLE TELL US ABOUT HIM.

ABSOLUTELY, AND THIS, I THINK, CONNECTS NICELY WITH TH DOCUMENTARY BECAUSE TH DOCUMENTARY IS WONDERFUL ABOUT THE LAND BUT THE OTHER SIDE OF TH STORY -- WHICH IS IN THE DOCUMENTARY, BUT IT HAS TO B EMPHASIZED -- IS WHAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN TO EUROPEAN JEWRY IN 1913 OR EVEN BEFORE AN DEFINITELY AFTERWARDS.

AND THAT'S WHERE MY GREA GRANDFATHER COMES INTO IT.

MY GREAT GRANDFATHER WAS A PRIVILEGED JEW HE WAS SUCCESSFUL.

HE WAS A VICTORIAN GENTLEMAN HE HAD IT ALL IN LONDON.

AND WHEN I ASKED MYSELF, 'WH DID HE TRAVEL TO PALESTINE, TO THIS REMOTE, DESOLATE LAND THA WE'VE JUST SEEN?' -- THE ANSWE IS THAT THE EARLY ZIONISTS HAD A BRILLIANT, TRAGIC INSIGHT.

THEY REALIZED THAT EUROPE WA BECOMING A DEATHTRAP TO IT JEWS

SO, EVEN IN THE LATE 1800s --

MY GREAT GRANDFATHER CAME I 1897 THIS IS WHEN THE ZIONIST MOVEMENT WAS LAUNCHED BY DR. HERZL.

AND THE AMAZING THING -- THA THESE PEOPLE -- THEY DON'T KNO THERE WILL BE A HOLOCAUST.

THEY DON'T KNOW THERE WILL B AUSCHWITZ AND TREBLINKA.

BUT THEY REALIZED THAT EUROPE -- THAT THEY LOVED -- THESE ARE EUROPEAN JEWS WHO LOVED EUROPE EUROPE WAS THEIR LIFE.

BUT THEY REALIZED THAT THE NEW SO TO SPEAK, MODERN EUROPE ENLIGHTENED EUROPE, IS BECOMIN ADDICTED TO A KIND OF HATE, NEW KIND, RENEWED KIND OF HATE THAT WILL JEOPARDIZE JEWIS LIFE, AS WELL, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT TO ADDRESS TODAY, AS WHEN THERE'S SO MUCH CRITICISM OF ISRAEL'S -- ISRAEL WAS SO NEEDED, AND IT'S FUNDAMENTALLY SO JUST BECAUSE WE WERE EUROPE'S ULTIMATE OTHER AND WE WERE ABOUT TO BECOM EUROPE'S ULTIMATE VICTIMS.

SO, THESE FOUNDERS OF ISRAEL DECADES BEFORE IT WAS FOUNDED, SAW THE MOST DRAMATIC CHALLENGE, A TRULY EXISTENTIAL CHALLENGE -- OUR PEOPLE -- THE JEWS WER REALLY FACING AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT, AND THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE THEM WAS TO TAKE THEM TO THA LAND THAT WE JUST SAW.

SO, THAT'S THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY THAT, AGAIN, IS MENTIONE IN THE DOCUMENTARY, BUT WITHOU UNDERSTANDING THAT - THE STORY OF PALESTINE, OF THE LAND OF ISRAEL, IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE 20th CENTURY, IS A COMPETITION BETWEEN TW PROCESSES.

WILL THE JEWS BUILD PALESTINE?

WILL IT BE A HOME IN TIME, BEFORE CATASTROPHE STRIKES AND THE REAL SIN OF ZIONISM -- THE ONLY SIN, IN MY MIND -- IS THAT IT WAS TOO LATE BECAUSE I THEY HAD BEGUN THEIR PROJECT - IF DR. RUPPIN AND THESE OTHE GENTLEMEN WOULD HAVE DONE WHAT THEY'D DONE 20 YEARS EARLIER AND WE WOULD HAVE HAD A JEWISH DEMOCRATIC STATE THERE IN TH 1920s, MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WOUL HAVE BEEN SAVED.

AND WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING THAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ISRAEL, AND YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND THE HISTORY OF THE CONFLICT.

SO, YOUR GREAT GRANDFATHER, AS YOU SAID, COMES OVER EARLY ON AND FINDS THIS LAND.

AND AS YOU SAID, INTERESTINGLY HE WASN'T A DISPLACED PERSON HE WASN'T A LOST SOUL.

HE WAS A VERY SUCCESSFUL -- AS YOU SAID, A VICTORIAN GENTLEMAN.

AND THAT BEGINS THE PROCESS.

AND LET'S SORT OF MOVE INTO YOUR BOOK NOW, IF WE CAN.

YOUR OWN BACKGROUND, AS WE MENTIONED -- A JOURNALIST, A SOLDIER.

YOU SPENT SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT O TIME INVOLVED IN THE MILITAR THERE.

SO, IT GIVES YOU A..

AND A HUMAN-RIGHTS ACTIVIST

AND A HUMAN-RIGHTS ACTIVIST IT GIVES YOU A PERSPECTIVE O ALL OF THIS.

SO, LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE ISSUES NOW THAT YOU FOCUS ON I THIS BOOK BECAUSE IT'S IMPORTANT THAT -- THE TITLE SAYS IT IS BOTH A TRIUMPH AND THE TRAGEDY OF ISRAEL.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT STRUCK ME IS, YOU TALKED ABOUT THE FUNDAMENTAL PARADOX OF ISRAE TODAY.

TALK ABOUT THAT A LITTLE BIT MORE

WELL, ISRAEL IS A GOLD MINE OF PARADOXES THE WHOLE POINT ABOUT ISRAEL I REALLY -- AND THIS IS WHAT I ASK -- YOU KNOW, I'M NOT - I'M NOT INTO PROMOTING A SPECIFIC POLITICAL AGENDA.

WHAT I ASK PEOPLE IS TO ADDRES THE COMPLEXITY OF THIS STORY THE COMPLEXITY OF THIS COUNTRY AND THE COMPLEXITY OF TH CONFLICT SO, ON THE ONE HAND, IN MY MIND, ISRAEL IS A TRUE MANMADE MIRACLE.

IT'S A REMARKABLE, REMARKABL HUMAN ENDEAVOR BECAUSE WE'VE DONE WHAT NO OTHER PEOPLE HAVE DONE WE'VE BUILT OUR NATIONAL HOM AFTER 2,000 YEARS.

THERE ISN'T SUCH A PHENOMENON.

LOOK AT THE GLOBE.

WE BUILT IT UNDER THE VOLCANO.

AND IF ANYONE DID NOT UNDERSTAND HOW VOLCANIC THE MIDDLE EAST IS, I THINK IN RECENT YEARS, WE AL LEARNED THAT AND WE BUILT IT AS A DEMOCRACY WITH ALL ITS FLAWS AND PROBLEMS -- AND I AM VER CRITICAL OF ISRAELI POLICIES - ISRAEL IS AN OASIS OF LIBERTY IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

THESE ARE UNBELIEVABLE ACHIEVEMENTS, AND THIS MAKES ISRAEL A REALLY REMARKABLE PHENOMENON THE OTHER SIDE OF IT IS THIS CONFLICT BECAUSE WHERE PEOPL LIKE MY GREAT GRANDFATHER WERE MISTAKEN OR WHAT THEY DID NO SEE -- THEY DID NOT SEE THAT THE MOMENT WE WENT BACK TO OUR ANCIENT HOMELAND, WE WER WALKING INTO A BUILT-IN CONFLICT WITH OUR OWN OTHER IF WE WERE EUROPE'S ULTIMATE OTHER, NOW WE HAD OUR OWN OTHER, THE PALESTINIANS

AND THAT CONFLICT WAS LAND?

ITS EXISTENCE, IN MANY WAYS THAT'S THE POINT THE POINT IS THAT WHEN THEY CAME THERE, THEY WERE UTOPIAN THEY WERE NAIVE.

AND I DESCRIBE HOW THEY WOUL NOT SEE THE PROBLEMS, BUT --

YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT BLINDNESS.

ABSOLUTELY.

AND BY THE WAY, IT'S MUTUA BLINDNESS.

WE DID NOT SEE THEM, AND THE DID NOT SEE US AGAIN, WE SAW THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE THERE, BUT WE DIDN' UNDERSTAND THE POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THAT AND THEY WOULD NOT RECOGNIZE THE FACT THAT WE DID NOT COME FROM OURS, THAT WE HAD AN EXISTENTIAL NEED TO GO FOR OUR LAND, THAT WE WERE DEEPLY ENGAGED WITH IT.

SO, THIS MUTUAL BLINDNESS MADE THE CONFLICT ALMOS INEVITABLE -- INEVITABLE YOU KNOW, I OPPOSE ISRAE SETTLEMENTS, AND I OPPOS OCCUPATION, BUT THE CONFLICT I NOT ABOUT OCCUPATION AND NOT ABOUT SETTLEMENTS.

THAT COMES IN THE FOURTH, FIFT ACT.

IT'S FUNDAMENTALLY ABOUT THI MUTUAL BLINDNESS AND THE FAILURE ON BOTH SIDES --

BLINDNESS IN THE SENSE OF HERE, EARLY ON, THE PEOPLE ARE COMING IN AND THEY'RE SAYING 'THIS IS MARVELOUS LAND, IT' OUR LAND, AND WE'RE GONNA TAKE IT,' AND A BLINDNESS THAT THER HAPPEN TO BE OTHER PEOPLE LIVING ON THIS LAND

ABSOLUTELY.

AND THIS, YOU KNOW, I -- YOU KNOW, MY BOOK IS VERY MUCH - IT'S A YIN-YANG BOOK IT'S THE TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY IT'S THE HOPE AND THE DESPAIR.

IT'S A CELEBRATION, BUT IT' A CRITICAL CELEBRATION

EXACTLY AND IT'S, FIRST OF ALL -- YO KNOW, IT'S A LOVE -- AS YOU JUST SAID, IT'S A LOVE STORY.

I LOVE ISRAEL.

I'M ASTONISHED BY TH PHENOMENON, THE MORE I LEARN ABOUT IT, THE MORE I LOOK AT IT.

BUT IT'S PAINFUL LOVE BECAUSE SEE THE FLAWS, I SEE THE PROBLEMS, I SEE THE DANGERS.

AND I STRUGGLE WITH THIS COMPLEXITY, WITH BOTH SIDES OF THIS ASTONISHING HUMAN STORY

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT SOME O THE FLAWS THAT YOU SEE, AND THEN LET'S COME BACK TO THE CELEBRATION THAT YOU TALK ABOU HERE, THE TRIUMPH OF ISRAEL.

AND WE GO BACK TO WHAT YOU SAI A FEW MOMENTS AGO, WHICH IS THAT IT'S THE GREAT OASIS O DEMOCRACY.

AND YET IT'S AN OCCUPYING POWE RIGHT NOW.

AND YOU TALK ABOUT THIS PARADOX.

ON THE ONE HAND, IT'S AN OCCUPYING POWER, WHILE ON TH OTHER HAND, IT'S UNDER CONSTAN SIEGE.

SO, HOW DO YOU RECONCILE THE NOTION OF AN OCCUPYING POWER WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO SAY, 'ISRAEL IS THE GREAT OASIS O DEMOCRACY'

SO, IT'S A DEEP AND SERIOUS QUESTION LET'S PUT IT THIS WAY -- I - SPEAKING OF COMPLEXITY, I AS PEOPLE TO ADDRESS THE TW DIMENSIONS OF THE CONFLICT ONE IS THAT WE SHOULD NOT BE OCCUPYING ANOTHER PEOPLE, AS W DO NOW IN THE WEST BANK AND, T A DEGREE, IN GAZA, MUCH LESS SO.

ON THE OTHER HAND, ANYONE WH TALKS ABOUT OCCUPATION SHOUL ADDRESS INTIMIDATION BECAUSE W ARE THE MOST INTIMIDATED DEMOCRACY ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH AND PROBABLY ONE OF TH MOST INTIMIDATED NATIONS SO, WE SHOULD DO THE UTMOST TO STOP OCCUPATION AND TO GIV PALESTINIANS THEIR RIGHTS, THEIR LIBERTY, OR THEIR SPACE, AND EVENTUALLY THEIR SOVEREIGN STATE.

BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, IT'S TH MORAL COMMITMENT, IN MY MIND, OF ANY DECENT HUMAN BEING T UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH WE ARE I JEOPARDY SO, SOMETIMES ISRAEL -- I THIN THERE IS A KIND OF SHARED FLAW BY THE EXTREME RIGHT WING AN EXTREME LEFT WING.

BOTH ASSUME ISRAEL IS SOME SOR OF HUGE EMPIRE AND THE LEFT, BECAUSE OF THAT, CRITICIZES ISRAEL AS IF IT WAS AN EVIL EMPIRE THE RIGHT SOMETIMES FEELS ISRAEL CAN DO WHATEVER IT WANTS WE ARE NOT -- SOMETIMES I SA ISRAEL IS AN UNDERDOG ON STEROIDS WE ARE FUNDAMENTALLY ENDANGERED.

LOOK, THE JEWS HAVE CONTRIBUTE SO MUCH TO HUMANITY.

AND THE JEWS WERE TREATED SO BADLY BY SUCH LARGE PARTS OF HUMANITY BUT WITH THE SUCCESS OF JEWS - BY THE WAY, IN THIS COUNTRY, A WELL, BUT ISRAEL MAKING IT - PEOPLE HAVE FORGOT THE CONTEXT THEY FORGOT THAT WE ARE, B DEFINITION, A MINORITY OF THE THREE GREAT MONOTHEIS RELIGIONS, ONE IS OVER TWO BILLION, THE OTHER IS OVER A BILLION AND A HALF, AND TH THIRD ONE IS 14 MILLION ON A GOOD DAY AND WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE MAP O THE MIDDLE EAST, WE ARE MIDGET WE ARE THE SIZE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.

AND WE DON'T HAVE A VERMON ACROSS THE BORDER.

SYRIA IS NO CANADA SO, WE -- I THINK MANY PEOPL GOT CONFUSED BECAUSE OF TH SUCCESS, THE AMAZING ABILITY T CREATE STRENGTH OUT OF WEAKNESS, ESPECIALLY AFTER AUSCHWITZ - PEOPLE THINK OF ISRAEL AS SOME SORT OF GOLIATH, WHICH IT IS NOT.

SO, I THINK WE HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE UNDERSTANDING THA FUNDAMENTALLY IT'S A JUS PROJECT.

IT'S AN AMAZING DEMOCRACY THAT MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE WITH THE BUILDING OF SETTLEMENTS AND GO CAUGHT UP IN THIS MORAL AN POLITICAL TRAP OF OCCUPATION WE HAVE TO DO THE UTMOST TO EN OCCUPATION IN A REASONABLE WAY BUT I ASK OTHER PEOPLE TO LOOK BOTH AT THE WONDER OF ISRAEL BUT ALSO AT THE DIFFICULTY - I'LL SAY ONE THING WHEN I HEAR SOME OF TH CRITICISM, VICIOUS CRITICISM I EUROPE REGARDING ISRAEL -- AS I SAID, THE HISTORY IS VERY CLEAR.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EUROP AND US IS VERY CLEAR WE WERE TOTALLY POWERLESS.

WE TRIED BEING POWERLESS WE DID NO WRONG TO ANYONE FO 1,500 YEARS, AND YET..

AND THAT CLEARLY DIDN'T WORK.

...WE WERE PERSECUTED I SUCH A WAY SO, I THINK THAT ANY DECENT -- AND I'M TALKING NOW ABOU NON-JEWS AND PEOPLE NO ESPECIALLY CLOSE TO ISRAEL - THE WORLD, HUMANITY, CANNO AFFORD ANOTHER JEWIS CATASTROPHE.

AND I HOPE THAT NEVER HAPPENS, BUT THERE IS SUCH AN OPTION.

SO, ISRAEL MUST BE MUCH MORE MORAL AND PEACE-LOVING THAN IT IS RIGHT NOW, PEACE-SEARCHING, IN AN ACTIVE WAY BUT I ASK OTHER PEOPLE TO SEE, AGAIN, HOW WONDROUS IT IS AN HOW ENDANGERED IT IS

TO UNDERSTAND LITERALLY YOU HAVE A GUN TO YOUR HEAD.

BUT THEN HOW, KNOWING THAT - AND YOU SAID YOU'VE BEEN CRITICAL ABOUT ISRAEL BEING AN OCCUPYING POWER, A OCCUPYING FORCE -- YOU'VE MENTIONED THAT YOU'RE CRITICAL OF THE SETTLEMENTS.

WERE THE SETTLEMENTS A MISTAKE

OUR WORST HISTORICAL MISTAK EVER

AND YET, IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, MOST PEOPLE LOOK AT THAT A ONE OF THE GREAT EFFORTS ON TH PART OF THE ISRAELIS TO EMBRAC THE LAND, TO BECOME PART OF IT BY SAYING, 'LET'S SETTLE THE --' IT SOUNDS LIKE A WONDERFUL THING, AND YET NOW IT ALMOST SOUNDS AS IF IT'S SORT OF PEJORATIVE -- 'SETTLEMENTS.'

SO, LET'S MAKE A CLEA DISTINCTION, AND THE CLEAR DISTINCTION IS, UNTIL THE STAT OF ISRAEL WAS ESTABLISHED AN AFTERWARDS WE NEEDED SETTLEMENT BUILDING, KIBBUTZ BUILDING, MOSHAV -- AL THE REALLY WONDROUS WORK THAT WE DID THAT BEGAN IN THE LATE 19t CENTURY, IN ORDER TO BUILD OUR HOME BUT THE MOMENT WE HAD OUR HOME THE MOMENT WE HAD 78% OF THE LAND OF ISRAEL -- AFTER THE '4 WAR, UNTIL THE '67 -- WE SHOUL HAVE STOPPED WE SHOULD HAVE CONCENTRATED ON BUILDING THE BEST WE CAN, TH LAND THAT WE HAD THE MISTAKE WE MADE AFTER TH '67 WAR -- IT'S JUST NOW 4 YEARS TO THAT WAR -- IS THAT SOME PEOPLE THOUGHT WE CAN GO ON AND DOING BEYOND THE ORIGINA BORDERS WHAT WE DID DECADE BEFORE AND THAT WAS THE CRITICA MISTAKE BECAUSE THERE IS A NEED -- LOOK, I'M PASSIONATE ABOUT THE JEWISH DEMOCRATI STATE.

BUT IF ISRAEL IS TO BE BOT JEWISH AND DEMOCRATIC, IT MUST HAVE -- IT MUST LET TH PALESTINIAN POPULATION HAV THEIR OWN POLITICA REPRESENTATION AND THEIR OWN POLITICAL SPACE AND, EVENTUALLY, THEIR OWN STATE BEYOND OUR BORDER IF WE TRY TO CONTROL ALL OF TH PALESTINIANS, WE RISK THE JEWISH DEMOCRATIC STATE BECAUSE THEN, EVENTUALLY, ISRAEL WOULD EITHE STOP BEING JEWISH OR STOP BEIN DEMOCRATIC SO, IT'S OUR INTEREST, OUR NEED -- AGAIN, MORALLY POLITICALLY, AND, IN MY MIND EVEN SECURITY-WISE, TO CREATE PROCESS THAT GIVES THE PALESTINIANS THEIR OWN SPACE I GAZA AND THE WEST BANK NOW, THERE WERE DIFFICULTIES THE PALESTINIANS ARE NOT EAS PARTNERS AND A LOT OF THE GUILT -- YO KNOW, PEOPLE TEND TO BLAME ISRAEL FOR EVERYTHING.

ISRAEL MADE MISTAKES PALESTINIANS MAKE MORE MISTAKES.

YOU NEED PARTNERS TO REACH --

BUT WE SHOULD NOT GIVE UP AND WE SHOULD FIND A NEW KIND OF PEACE PROCESS THAT ALLOWS US T GIVE THE PALESTINIANS THEI SPACE WHILE GUARANTEEING OUR EXISTENCE AND OUR SECURITY

HOW CAN THAT HAPPEN YOU TALKED ABOUT, THERE SHOULD BE A CAREFUL AND CAUTIOUS END TO OCCUPATION YOU TALK ABOUT THE PROBLEMS WITH THE SETTLEMENTS.

AND TO GET RESOLUTION TO THOSE ISSUES -- AND THE DIFFICULTIES OF THE PALESTINIANS AS A PARTNER.

TO GET RESOLUTION OF THOSE ISSUES, ESSENTIALLY YOU NEED A STRONG GOVERNMENT, STRON INDIVIDUALS WHO WILL MAKE THAT DETERMINATION.

FROM WITHOUT, I LOOK AT TH ISRAELI GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE AND I SAY, IT'S CONSTANT COALITIONS THE NATURE OF YOUR ELECTIONS IS, EVERY PARTY GETS SOME SORT O REPRESENTATIVE SEAT, WHICH SOUNDS WONDERFULLY FROM DEMOCRATIC POINT OF VIEW, BU HOW DO YOU GET HARD DECISIONS, THEN, MADE WHEN YOU HAVE SUC DISPARATE VIEWS RUNNING YOUR GOVERNMENT IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?

ONE OF THE PARADOXES OF ISRAEL -- THAT YOU HAV REMARKABLE, TALENTED INDIVIDUALS.

YOU HAVE A VERY RICH, CREATIVE INNOVATIVE SOCIETY, AND TOTALL DYSFUNCTIONAL POLITICS ISRAEL POLITICS IS EVEN WORS THAN AMERICAN POLITICS

[ CHUCKLES MAYBE THAT MAKES US FEEL GOOD.

I DON'T KNOW IT'S ALWAYS NICE TO KNOW THA SOMEBODY'S WORSE OFF THAN YO ARE.

AND YET, I THINK THAT, IN ORDER TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUE O PEACE AND SETTLEMENTS AND AL THAT, WE NEED THE RIGHT IDEA THERE IS A REASONABLE MAJORITY IN ISRAEL, BUT THESE REASONABL ISRAELIS WERE SO BURNED BY THE ATTEMPTS TO BRING PEACE THAT FAILED, THAT ENDED UP IN TURMOIL AND VIOLENCE, THAT THEY LOST HOPE AND THEY ARE IN A POST-TRAUMATIC SITUATION.

IF WE WILL HAVE INTERNATIONA LEADERSHIP AND THE BENIGN FORCES IN ISRAEL BRING ABOUT A NEW KIND OF PEACE CONCEPT THAT IS REALISTIC, THAT ADDRESSES TH TERRIBLE CHAOS ALL AROUND US THAT ADDRESSES THE FAILURES OF THE PAST, THAT WILL SAY, 'LET' BEGIN, FOR INSTANCE, WITH SETTLEMENT FREEZE, AND GRADUALLY LET'S DO NATION BUILDING WIT THE PALESTINIANS, KNOWING THAT RIGHT NOW THERE IS N PALESTINIAN LEADERSHIP THAT CA SIGN A PEACE AGREEMENT BUT LET'S -- I'LL GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE I BELIEVE WE MUST HAVE A MARSHALL PLAN FOR GAZA WE CANNOT LEAVE THE PEOPLE O GAZA -- I THINK HAMAS IS A VICIOUS, TOTALITARIA ORGANIZATION, BUT THERE ARE 1.

MILLION PEOPLE THERE WE HAVE TO GIVE THEM HOPE AN SPACE.

WE HAVE TO DO THE UTMOST TO HAVE DEVELOPMENT THERE.

WE CAN DO THINGS IN THE WEST BANK WE SHOULD HAVE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS, WATER PROJECTS, POWE STATIONS WE CAN WORK WITH THE MODERAT ARABS THROUGHOUT THE REGION.

WE SHOULD ASK THE SAUDIS AND THE GULF COUNTRIES TO FINANCE ALL OF THAT IF WE GO TO A KIND OF DE FACTO PEACE IDEA, IF WE DO A KIND OF NEW -- WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT, AS BENIGN AS IT WAS, THE OLD ATTEMPT TO BRING ABOUT PEACE HAS TOTALLY FAILED, TOTALL FAILED THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE NEE MORE SETTLEMENT BUILDING AND MORE OF THE STATUS QUO, WHICH IS KILLING US SO, IF WE HAVE -- AND THIS IS, I THINK, UP TO ALL OF US IT'S A KIND OF INTELLECTUAL DUTY TO BRING ABOUT THE NEW IDEA.

THEN WE CAN BRING ABOUT TH LEADERSHIP THAT CAN CREATE CHANGE IN ISRAEL AS LONG AS WE SEEM TO BE NOT RELEVANT, NOT ADDRESSING THE LEGITIMATE FEARS OF ISRAELIS WE'LL HAVE THE STATUS QUO, WHICH IS SO, SO DANGEROUS.

LISTENING TO YOUR THOUGHT AND YOUR VIEWS AND YOU SUGGESTIONS AS TO REMEDIES HERE, I THINK -- I'M SURE THERE ARE LOT OF PEOPLE THAT ARE NODDING THEIR HEAD I SUSPECT ALSO THAT AFTER YOUR BOOK HAS COME OUT AND AFTE YOU'VE HAD A CHANCE TO TAL ABOUT IT, I SUSPECT THERE ARE LOT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE LOOKING AT THIS AND WHAT YOU'RE WRITING AND WHAT YOU'RE SAYING AS BETRAYAL, SAYING, 'HE SHOULD KNOW BETTER.

HE SERVED IN THE MILITARY.

HIS GREAT GRANDFATHER WAS ONE OF OUR FOUNDERS.'

ARE YOU GETTING THAT KIND OF RESPONSE FROM ANYBODY?

GENERALLY SPEAKING, THE RESPONSE WAS SURPRISINGL POSITIVE IT'S NOT THAT EVERYBODY AGREED BUT, YOU KNOW, I HAVE TH OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK IN MANY AMERICAN CITIES, TO MANY AMERICAN AUDIENCES, JEWISH AUDIENCES, NON-JEWISH AUDIENCES.

AND GENERALLY SPEAKING, PEOPLE LEAVE THE HALLS WHERE I SPEA WITH OPEN-MINDED AND WITH MORE AGREEMENT AND LESS POLARIZATIO THAN YOU'D EXPECT.

SO, OF COURSE OUR PEOPLE WIL THINK -- AND BY THE WAY, I'M - THERE ARE ATTACKS ON ME OUT FROM THE RIGHT, BOTH THE RIGHT AN THE LEFT, WHICH MAKES ME FEE VERY GOOD.

AS A JOURNALIST, IF YOU'R GETTING IT FROM BOTH SIDES YOU'RE THINKING, 'I'M DOING MY JOB.

EXACTLY BUT GENERALLY SPEAKING, THER WAS MUCH MORE -- I THINK THA SOMETHING HAPPENED THAT -- I DIDN'T PLAN IT I THINK THERE IS A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE WONDERING ABOUT ISRAEL AND WONDERING ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAS IN THIS COUNTRY.

I THINK THAT WHAT HAPPENED REGARDING THE MIDDLE EAST -- THAT AMERICA, SINCE THE IRAQ WAR, HAS BECOME A MIDDLE EAS POWER.

YOU'RE PART OF THE MIDDLE EAST YOU DON'T LIKE IT.

WE DIDN'T PLAN ON BECOMIN PART OF THE MIDDLE EAST.

WE ARE NOW THERE

YOU ARE PART OF THE MIDDLE EAST, AND THE MIDDLE EAST IS PART OF YOU AND PEOPLE REALIZE THAT THER ARE PROBLEMS, THAT AMERICA MAD SOME MISTAKES IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

YOU KNOW, I AM A GREAT ADMIRER OF AMERICA AS A SUPERPOWER AND AMERICA'S LEADERSHIP IN TH WORLD.

I'M MORE PRO-AMERICAN THAN MAN OF MY AMERICAN FRIENDS BUT OBVIOUSLY, IN THE LAST TWO DECADES, SOME SERIOUS MISTAKES WERE MADE.

THE MISTAKES WERE MADE -- THEY WERE BENIGN MISTAKES -- THEY WERE NOT CYNICAL OR VICIOU MISTAKES -- BECAUSE THERE'S GAP, THERE IS A TENSION BETWEE AMERICAN VALUES -- YOUR DEEP DEMOCRATIC IDENTITY -- AND THE TRIBAL, EXTREMIST, FUNDAMENTALIST REALITY OF TH MIDDLE EAST.

SO, I THINK THAT MANY PEOPLE HERE ARE STRUGGLING -- AND THI IS BEFORE YOU GET TO ISRAEL -- ARE STRUGGLING -- 'HOW WILL WE DEAL WITH THIS REGION?

LOOK, THE REGION IS GETTING OU OF CONTROL IT'S CHAOTIC AND I THINK MANY PEOPLE IN AMERICA, WHETHER THEY AR DECISION MAKERS OR INTELLIGENT FOLKS WHO ARE JUST WATCHIN THIS, SAY, 'WHAT DO WE DO?

SO, WHEREVER I SPEAK, I ACTUALLY FEEL THAT PEOPLE ARE THIRSTY O HUNGRY FOR SOME SORT OF NE VOICE THAT WILL SPEAK WITH COMMON SENSE ABOUT THIS REGION HOW WILL WE DEAL WITH THIS TENSION?

HOW DO WE STAY DECENT WHILE WE DEAL WITH THIS BRUTALITY?'

THE SAME APPLIES WITH ISRAEL PEOPLE ARE CONFUSED BECAUSE OF THE COMPLEXITIES ISRAEL -- PEOPLE ARE STRUGGLIN WITH IT BECAUSE THERE'S -- THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY -- AND, AGAIN, NOT ONLY THE JEWISH COMMUNITY -- YOU FEEL EMPATH AND LOVE FOR ISRAEL ON THE ONE HAND AND YET -- ESPECIALLY AMON YOUNG PEOPLE -- MORE AND MOR PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT OCCUPATION, AND THEY'RE ASKING THEMSELVES, 'WHAT THE HELL I GOING ON?'

SO, I'M ACTUALLY VERY -- I FEE PRIVILEGED AND INSPIRED BY THE DIALOGUE I HAVE WITH SO MANY AMERICANS.

AND I THINK IT MAKES ME, BY TH WAY, A BIT OPTIMISTIC EVEN ABOUT YOUR POLITICS THAT WE MENTIONED.

I SEE THAT PEOPLE ARE GETTIN TIRED OF THE POLARIZATION AN THE DUMBING-DOWN WITH EXTREMISM.

PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING MORE NUANCED, MORE CIVILIZED MORE REASONABLE.

AND I THINK THAT IF I CA CONTRIBUTE IN ANY SORT OF WAY TO A DISCOURSE THAT IS SLIGHTLY MORE INTELLIGENT, SLIGHTLY MOR CIVILIZED, I THINK PERHAPS WE'VE CONTRIBUTED SOMETHING.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT TWO OF THE CHAPTERS IN YOUR BOOK.

IT'S A FABULOUS READ, AND PEOPLE WHO HAVE ANY INTEREST IN THI AREA -- AND YOU SHOULD HAV INTEREST IN THE AREA -- SHOULD GET IT YOU HAVE TWO CHAPTERS BACK T BACK AND ONE OF THEM IS ABOUT LYDDA THE VALLEY OF LYDDA, THE CITY OF LYDDA, AND, ESSENTIALLY, IN 1948 HOW IT'S BASICALLY TAKEN OVER.

AND YOU TALK ABOUT -- YOU US THE WORDS THAT LYDDA IS ISRAEL'S 'BLACK BOX.'

IT CONTAINS THE DARK SECRETS O ZIONISM.

AND I THINK YOU'VE TALKED ABOU THAT NOW BUT WHAT I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT IS THE CHAPTER THAT FOLLOW THAT BECAUSE I'VE SEEN THAT -- YOU HAVE SAID THAT'S ESSENTIALLY THE ESSENCE OF THE BOOK.

YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THE '50 AND THE PEOPLE WHO CAME TO ISRAEL IN THE '50s WHY -- BECAUSE I WAS A LITTL PUZZLED BY THAT AT FIRST SAYING, 'WELL, WHY WOULD THAT BE THE ESSENCE OF THE BOOK, WHE YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THE CREATION OF ISRAEL EARLY ON AN THE PROBLEMS NOW?'

SO, WHY ARE THE '50s THE ESSENCE?

SO, LYDDA IS THE TRAGEDY, AND THE CHAPTER ABOUT THE '50s - ISRAEL OF THE '50s IS REALLY THE TRIUMPH, THE CLIMAX OF THE TRIUMPH.

WHY?

MANY PEOPLE TALK ABOUT ISRAEL' HEROISM, YOU KNOW, PIONEER HEROISM, OUR WARRIORS, OUR - BUT THERE WERE -- YOU HA PIONEERS IN THIS COUNTRY THERE ARE WARRIORS IN MANY COUNTRIES.

THE CIVILIAN HEROISM OF ISRAEL OF THE 1950s, I THINK, CANNOT BE MATCHED ANYWHERE ELSE, IN AN STORY.

AND I'LL SAY -- I'LL GIVE YO THE MANIFESTATION OF IT.

IMAGINE AMERICA TODAY -- GOD FORBID -- GOING THROUGH A WAR IN WHICH IT LOSES 3 1/2 MILLION PEOPLE GOD FORBID AND THEN IMAGINE AMERICA, IN THE FOLLOWING 3 1/2 YEARS, ABSORBING 500 MILLION IMMIGRANTS CAN IT BE DONE IS IT HUMANLY POSSIBLE ISRAEL OF THE 1950s -- EARLY 1950s -- DID THAT.

WE WERE POOR. WE WERE ISOLATED WE JUST GOT OUT OF THE WAR WE HAD NOTHING. WE HAD NOTHING BUT WE DID THE IMPOSSIBLE.

IN THE EARLY 1950s, A THIRD OF THE POPULATION LIVES IN TENT AND TIN SHACKS BUT WE BUILT HOUSING FOR THEM -- CHEAP HOUSING, LOUSY HOUSING BUT HOUSING.

AND WE BUILT A NATION.

BUT IT'S NOT ONLY THESE AMAZIN NUMBERS, BUT IT'S, 'WHO ARE TH PEOPLE?'

MANY OF THESE PEOPLE WER REFUGEES FROM THE ARAB WORLD WHO LOST EVERYTHING OVERNIGHT.

AND THEN THE OTHERS WERE HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS, PEOPLE WITH NUMBERS TATTOOED INTO THEI ARMS, PEOPLE WITH NIGHTMARES PEOPLE WHO HAD EVERY REASON TO BE HUMAN WRECKS, PEOPLE WHO JUST LOST THEIR FIRST FAMILY A FE YEARS BACK AND THEY BUILT A NE FAMILY, SOMETIMES NOT TELLIN THEIR NEW DAUGHTERS AND SONS THAT THEY HAD OTHER DAUGHTER AND SONS 10 YEARS EARLIER.

SO, THESE PEOPLE HAD EVERY REASON TO BE VINDICTIVE, TO BE BITTER, TO BE HATEFUL.

BUT THEY DECIDED TO CHOOSE LIFE.

THEIR REVENGE WAS NOT SUICID BOMBING.

THEIR REVENGE WAS TO BUILD A COUNTRY, TO BUILD HOUSING, T SEND THEIR KIDS TO THE BES SCHOOLS POSSIBLE, TO BUILD A HEALTH SYSTEM THAT IS BETTER THAN YOURS, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT.

THIS IS -- THE MORE I LOOK A THAT, I SHIVER THIS IS SUCH A TRIUMPH OF TH HUMAN SPIRIT YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE JEWISH OR PRO-ISRAELI.

IF YOU JUST LOOK AT THIS PHENOMENON OF NATION BUILDING IN THE MOST AMAZING WAY, THE MOST DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES, AFTER THE MOST TRAUMATIC PAST POSSIBLE AND THE DECISION NOT T SURRENDER TO FATE, NOT T SURRENDER TO THE TRAGEDY, BUT TO BUILD A LIFE AND TO BUILD FUTURE AND TO MOVE FORWARD THAT'S ISRAEL AT ITS BEST.

IN MY MIND, ISRAEL STILL HAS IT.

THE PROBLEM WE HAVE IN PRESENT-DAY ISRAEL -- THAT W DON'T HAVE THE KIND OF POLITICAL LEADERSHIP WE HAD IN THE '50s.

IF TODAY WE WOULD BE ABLE TO TAKE THE SPIRIT THAT IS STIL THERE IN ISRAEL AND BRING IT BACK TO THE POLITICAL SPHERE, THINK YOU'LL BE AMAZED BY WHAT CAN BE DONE IN THAT COUNTRY.

LET ME, AS A LAST QUESTION, GO TO THE FIRST WORDS IN YOU BOOK FIRST LINE IN YOUR BOOK READS, 'FOR AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER I REMEMBER FEAR.

DO YOU HAVE ANY REAL OPTIMIS THAT THAT WILL CHANGE, THAT AT SOME TIME IN THE FAIRLY NEAR FUTURE, THAT NOTION OF CONSTAN FEAR, THAT EXISTENTIAL FEAR, I YOU'RE AN ISRAELI, WILL HAVE BECOME JUST A DISTANT MEMORY

SO, I HAVE OPTIMISM I'LL GET TO THAT IN A MINUTE BUT FEAR IS THERE, AND WE HAVE TO ADDRESS IT.

AND, YOU KNOW, I REMEMBER TH FEAR I HAD WHEN THE SIRENS WER HOWLING AT THE BEGINNING OF TH SIX-DAY WAR.

AND THEN THIS LAST SUMMER, I HAD TO WATCH MY OWN YOUNG BOYS -- 10-YEAR-OLD AND A 5-YEAR-OLD - EXPERIENCING THE SAME, THE FEA WHEN THE SIRENS ARE HOWLING AN YOU DON'T KNOW WHETHER A MISSILE WILL HIT YOUR HOME SO, ISRAEL -- THE PARADOX OF ISRAEL -- ISRAEL IN MANY WAYS IS A MINI AMERICA IN MANY WAYS, ISRAEL IS EITHER SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OR SOUTHERN FLORIDA WE HAVE -- IN MANY WAYS, WE HAVE THE SILICON VALLEY O CALIFORNIA WE HAVE THE SOUTH BEACH PARTIES.

IT'S A WILD, ENERGETIC, FREE LIVELY PLACE, VERY MUCH LIKE AMERICA.

BUT WE ARE SURROUNDED BY HAMAS AND HEZBOLLAH AND AL-QAEDA AND ISIS AND YOU NAME IT SO, WE LIVE IN THIS TENSION OF 'HOW DO WE PRESERVE THIS AMERICAN-LIKE ENTITY AMERICAN-LIKE VALUES AMERICAN-LIKE SPIRIT AND VITALITY, WHILE WE ARE SURROUNDED BY ALL THAT I'M NOT NAIVE.

I DON'T THINK THAT CONFLICT WILL GO AWAY AND THAT WE WILL NOT LIVE WITH FEAR AT ALL IN THE COMING DECADES BUT FUNDAMENTALLY, I AM AN OPTIMIST IF THERE'S SOMETHING I'V LEARNED WHILE WRITING THIS BOOK, FOR A CENTURY, EVERY DECADE IT SEEMS THAT THE WALLS ARE CLOSING IN ON US AND THERE'S NO HOPE AND EVERY DECADE, SOMETHIN HAPPENED THAT GENERATED ENERGY AND GAVE US SPACE AND GAVE U LIFE AGAIN SO, MY CONCLUSION THAT -- IF YOU HAVE TO DESCRIBE ISRAEL IN A SENTENCE, IT'S AN AMAZIN PHENOMENON OF VITALITY AGAINST ALL ODDS AND I BELIEVE IN THAT VITALITY AND I BELIEVE WE SHALL OVERCOM OUR CHALLENGES

THIS WAS A MARVELOU CONVERSATION WE HAVE SO MUCH MORE THAT YO AND I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT, AN MY HOPE IS WE CAN GET YOU BACK SOMETIME SOON AND TALK SOM MORE

WITH PLEASURE

ARI SHAVIT, IT'S A PLEASURE TALKING WITH YOU THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THAT'S GONNA WRAP UP NOW OUR SPECIAL EDITION OF 'MetroFocus.'

YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATIO ABOUT ARI SHAVIT AND HIS BOOK, 'MY PROMISED LAND: THE TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY OF ISRAEL,' ONLINE AT metrofocus.org.

AND YOU CAN WATCH 'MetroFocus' EVERY THURSDAY EVENING ON OU NEW YORK AND NEW JERSE PUBLIC-TELEVISION STATIONS I'M JACK FORD.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WA PROVIDED BY THE FOLLOWING... CORPORATE FUNDING FO 'MetroFocus' WAS PROVIDED BY..

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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