Transcript- 11/09 Webinar with Hagit Ofran and Yoni Mizrachi

Hadar Susskind  00:19

Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's Americans for Peace Now webinar. Those of you who are veteran APN, webinar-watchers know that this is the part where I engage in the most "Washington" of activities, the filibuster. It takes a moment for everybody to get signed in and logged on. So we're gonna give it just that minute and then introduce our guests and we will get started. So for those of you who are in already, thank you for your patience. Apologies that you have to listen to me ramble for one more moment, but we're getting there. The numbers are going up. There we go. 100… 105… still going. Again, hello. Welcome, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Americans for Peace Now webinar. I am Hadar Susskind, the President and CEO of APN. I am glad as always, to have all of you with us. A little bit of housekeeping before we get started, as you probably know, but it's always important to be reminded this webinar will be recorded. So we will share it with everyone who's registered and everyone else for that matter afterward. If you'd like to share it with other folks, friends, family, who knows. Also, after we hear from our speakers, we will be taking questions. As usual, we will use the Q&A button on the bottom of the screen. So if you have questions, don't don't use the chat or the "hand raise" use the q&a function, we will get to as many of them as possible. If we can't get to all of the questions, we will share them with Yoni, we'll share them with Hagit and try to get answers back to you. So thank you, everyone. I'm going to start off with saying as we have for the last number of weeks now, this obviously continues to be frankly a very, very difficult time. And our topic is always important and always serious. It is specifically very heavy right now as fighting continues in Gaza, rockets into Israel, not only from Gaza from other sources as well. Of course, most of the conversation, most of what we're hearing, seeing, reading is focused on Gaza and the conflict with Hamas. There's been some conversation, rightly so, also about the northern border, Hezbollah and others and the threats there. But there is, as we are about to hear, really a third important front and that is of course, what's happening in the West Bank, which has been very troubling and very problematic this past month. I'm glad to have our friends and our colleagues here to talk with us today to share their expertise and some of their recent work. You can see Hagit Ofran's name on the screen. Hagit is here but is in transit and will be joining us on camera in just a moment. I know most if not all of you are familiar with Hagit from her long time work at Shalom Achshav and leading Settlement Watch. I'm really happy to introduce to those of you who don't know and Yoni Mizrachi who joined Shalom Achshav and is now the co-director, I believe, of Settlement Watch along with Hagit. Some of you may have met Yoni or seen him in his work previously, as he was the founder and former former executive director of Emek Shaveh, but he is a longtime ally and partner in this work, and we're very happy to have him at Shalom Achshav and part of our family now. So Yoni, maybe you want to take just a moment and introduce yourself a little more to the crowd, because I think this is your first time with us, at least in a long time.


Yoni Mizrachi  04:03

First of all, thanks, Hadar, and Ori, obviously for organizing the event. And thank you all for coming. So I'm located in Jerusalem, actually. I joined Peace Now about eight or nine months ago, I don't remember. Something like that. As the co-director of the Settlement Watch, I'm focusing mainly in the West Bank, but in the last year, actually, I followed what happened also in East Jerusalem. And before that, Hadar mentioned, I founded the organization called Emek Shaveh. And I was director of Emek Shaveh for about 12 years. I founded it in 2009. And I ended my position because I thought it's about time to do something else and in Fall of 2021, if I'm not mistaken, in the end of 2021, I think, and in my profession, I'm an archaeologist. And yes, I think that I've been dealing with this conflict or situation in the West Bank for about maybe 20 years or something like that, remember? And I'm very happy actually to be here today.


Hadar Susskind  05:16

Well, again, we are happy to have you with us in the Shalom Achshav/APN family and with us today. So Yoni and Hagit and their colleagues have just put out a new report about what's happening this month in the West Bank. And that's really where we want to focus the conversation today. So Yoni I'm just gonna hand it over to you, why don't you start telling us about it?


Yoni Mizrachi  05:38

Okay, thank you. So, since the war began, what happened, the massacre on October 7, happened in the south, we obviously continue to watch and monitor what's happening in the West Bank. I mean, that is our job, it is our profession. Also, we know that in times of tension, times of armed conflict, mainly in the Gaza Strip, but not only other things. We know that there's lots of activity that the settlers are doing and actually taking advantage of the situation. But I think that what happened a month ago is definitely different from what we knew before. So I'm going just to mention the few main things that I think we should focus on, I think that we should pay attention to when we're talking about the West Bank in the last month. The first thing which is very concerning, is the spike of the number of the settler violence events, settler incidence with the Palestinians. Settler violence is not something new. We are, I mean, settler violence began with, unfortunately, with settlements, you know, like 50 years ago, but it's definitely increasing in the last few years. 2023 was another high number of settler violence. But the main thing that we witnessed is actually a situation that the settlers used violence to evacuate Palestinian communities, mainly in Area C, area C is the area that is controlled by Israel, unlike I mean, in the West Bank is divided into A, B and C. Area C is controlled by the Israelis, and also Palestinian communities live in there. So the first thing that we noticed is that the settlers initiative, we can say, to evacuate it or to harass or to threaten Palestinian communities, telling them they have to leave sometimes using force, sometimes stealing the property or burning the properties or all kinds of actions. I mean, we can't prove it, actually. But we know that that's what happened. But the Palestinians are definitely telling us and showing us that the settlers are the one who actually demand them to leave. So since the war began, we're talking about almost 1000 people that had to leave the place in Area C, and to move to area B or area A, that's one thing that's happening. The violence is not just by forcing communities to leave. We're also talking about violence, settler violence that ends with shooting on Palestinians, including killing Palestinians. And the most known case happened about a week and a half ago in a settlement called As-Sawiya when a settler killed a Palestinian that just did an olive harvest. But we also know about other cases that the settlers were involved in shooting, we also have footage of that. And it's actually increasing a lot because I want to say that in usually, usually in kind of normal time, we monitor a lot of media around every kind of settler event of violence, like killing Palestinians, definitely a big issue, but because of the war, people hardly hear about it. And that's one of the things that's happening. Something else, which is very relevant to the West Bank is that... actually what happened is that Israel recruited a lot of soldiers. That was happening when we had our military operation like this, but actually what happened was that many settlers are now recruited soldiers, wearing soldier uniforms, but they're actually securing their own settlements. Which means that sometimes when the Palestinian communities have interactions with the IDF, the person who's actually having interaction with them is the neighbor settlers, who's telling them that they have to leave. From the Palestinian angle, which I think it's very important to mention, since the war began, the Palestinians have actually been in a kind of siege in which they cannot live in their own villages or towns. And they cannot actually move from one big city to another big city. For example, if they want to move from Hebron to Bethlehem, for example, they have to use number 60, which is the main road which is in Area C. But since then the military decided to block many of the cities, so that hardly any Palestinians present in most of Area C can leave. And I'm mentioning that because the settlers also are trying to influence the IDF to prevent the Palestinians to go back to normal life in Area C or to have more interaction between themselves like from one city to another. Settler violence is not just against communities, it's also against people that are doing the harvest in the old or new settlements. It's also something that happens a lot. And we also noticed that the settlers themselves were interrupting or trying to affect the military decisions in Area C. We monitored cases where the settlers decided to prevent an armored vehicle that belonged to the Palestinian Authority [from going into Area C]. So we monitor a situation when the settlers decide no, we don't want to give weapons to the Palestinian Authority, their only enemy and they just prevent it. We also know that sometimes when the IDF decided to open checkpoints and things like that, in order to allow Palestinians to go out, they said "let's prevent that" or sometimes even reclosing it after the IDF left. So there's a lot of violence, a lot of tension there. And the settlers are trying to create a situation that the Palestinians cannot leave Areas A and B. We have the IDF trying to do whatever he can to, to protect mainly the settlers, but in many ways, I think also trying to protect the Palestinians or I think that also the security forces understand that. Let's say the flames are very high and they're trying to prevent the explosion. And the most concerning thing, and maybe with that I will end, is that at the political level the politicians in Israel are kind of, we can say, indifferent to what's happening in the West Bank. I mean, we didn't hear anything from any politician about the tension of the settlers violence. We didn't hear anything about the situation in the West Bank. The only thing that we heard was Netanyahu saying something very general about settler violence and in the Israeli media if you reading the Israeli left media, so it says that Netanyahu mentioned the settlers violence but he said it's minority and in the right wing media they quote Netanyahu saying "I told President Biden settlers violence is not a problem" or something like that. Or it's not a big problem. So according to what we see today, even if the security forces would like to keep the situation calm as you can in the West Bank, unfortunately the politicians are not helping in many ways, actually supporting the settler's demands. And in general, I mean, I'm actually, you know, traveling a lot in the West Bank. The feeling is that from the beginning of the war the tensions just rose a lot and definitely there must be some kind of measures to deescalate the situation. I think that's kind of a general overview of what I see.


Hadar Susskind  14:22

Thank you, Yoni. Hagit, hello, nice to see you.


Hagit Ofran  14:34

I'm sorry I was a little late. I was out in the demonstration at Netanyahu's residence demanding the release of the 240 captives and so yeah, it is now the most important thing, I think. And I really hope that something is moving there, but I have no idea. So I just want to say that you are welcome to read in our report, the details of the kind of activities that are taking place now in the West Bank, I just want to put it in the frame. What we see in recent years that settlers are trying to do, in general, is that it's no longer just taking more and or putting another settlement. But we see in the last several years, when they started to build those agriculture outposts, the farms that are there take over huge amounts of land by herding their flocks, and by sometimes, farming land. What they do is physically kick out Palestinians. So it's not only taking more land to be Israeli, but it's also kicking out Palestinians from their land. And we see it all the time as a system to prevent Palestinians from going to their lands. And what we see now, since the seventh of October, is that settlers are going out daily to attack the Palestinian community. And they already brought to the eviction of almost 1000 Palestinians. Around 15 communities that have been evicted and many, many others that ran away from this violence that is occurring now daily. And that's on the ground, there is also the campaign that the settlers are doing in the last few years, if they call it the battle over Area C, trying to say that area C should be only Israeli and that no Palestinians are allowed there. So what we see on the ground now is the fruits of this policy, and actually the settlers that are, you know, taking advantage of, of the war, to kick out Palestinians. And another aspect, that there is, is the general violence that, you know, people are so angry, and the revenge that we see, also soldiers that are humiliating and beating Palestinians. That's also in, like the general atmosphere. So violence is very high. I want to say that I think it's very, very dangerous. Because we had several cases where settlers killed Palestinians, you know, came into a village creating this friction trying to get their attention and to get them angry, and eventually shooting at Palestinians, and we don't know what will happen if another shooting will occur and what will be the reaction of Palestinians. So it's very dangerous. We call it the third front that might erupt if the government is not strong enough to hold the settlers back.


Hadar Susskind  19:35

Thank you. There is, again, as both as both of you laid out there a series of, you know, problems, challenges, bad bad things going on. I want to put two questions together and maybe Yoni, you'll start and Hagit will weigh in as soon as you are prepared to do so. So one question that came from one of our audience literally says how much are the IDF and the Israeli government colluding with the settlers in their attempts to drive the Palestinians off their land. So when you mentioned a little bit that sometimes the settlers are the soldiers also, but adding that level of government and what has been the government's policies around this, and then I'll add on to the question, really Hagit what you just ended with the concept of a third front and do you think, the IDF at least if not the government, do you think there's taking that into consideration seriously, right now as a security concern in the midst of the broader violence?


Yoni Mizrachi  20:57

I'm an archaeologist, and I was saying that I'm checking, not what people are saying, but what but people doing, you know, like the fact on the ground. And I think that it's very clear that this government is dealing with a strengthening of the extremist settlers. I mean, during the whole year, it's very clear that giving a lot of power to Smotrich… to actually today responsible for what's happening in the West Bank, when it comes to the settlers and enforcing the law when it's Palestinians and not enforcing the law on the settlers. This has also happened before October seventh. It's not that nothing has changed since then. And we would expect maybe that Netanyahu will understand that now this is the time to try to control the extremists in, in the West Bank. Like we could see last week that the coalition decided to appoint a very extremist Knesset member Succot, and he's part of Smotrich's party. And now today he's the head of the security committee in the Knesset that's responsible for security in the West Bank, which means that he's the one that's supposed to invite the generals and ask them "How come you're not enforcing the law".  And this is kind of an indication to where this government goes. And I'm saying that because according to my understanding, even I do believe that the IDF and the security forces don't want to deal with another front, and are definitely aware of what we are saying. But I don't see, as long as the government is not dealing with the event and not deciding to take steps against it, I don't see how things will change, actually. And that's really concerning.


Hadar Susskind  23:12

Hagit, you want to weigh in on that?


Hagit Ofran  23:14

I just want to say that the settlers were never... or the extreme settlers were never so strong, as strong as they are now. We have figures that are hilltop youth, violent settlers that are in the government in the coalition in the Knesset. Minister Smotrich had already in the past published his plan to make the Palestinian surrender. And his plan is if whoever of the Palestinians agrees to accept their superiority, our control, is welcome to stay. But if they don't, then Israel can take advantage of a violent round of war and kick them out. That's an explicit written plan by Smotrich, and I think many of the settlers think that this is the chance, we have this war, we have this big event, and we should take advantage of it. So I don't see that the government is ready to do anything to those settlers now. But we saw that President Biden managed to bring Netanyahu to say a word about it. So I believe in some reports in the press saying that the army is very concerned, or at least the higher ranks are very concerned. And they're telling Netanyahu that he should restrain the settlers. But it's like a tension there. But it's not easy politically, it's very easy militarily. I mean, if we want to stop this, I mean, first of all, Israel, or the army recruited the settlers to be soldiers or reserve soldiers in the settlement, which makes sense. But if you have soldiers that are violent, and they are using military guns, in order to shoot Palestinians, you should release them and take the guns away from them. And if you put soldiers to protect now, all outposts at all, all settlements, which you should now, you should tell them, also, to make sure that those settlers are not acting violently, not only protecting them from potential violence of Palestinians. So there are a lot of "easy things" that the military can do. And of course, the police if they start to investigate, seriously, because we know the names, we know the names of those settlers who come again and again, in South Hebron Hills, to this community or other communities. We know who they are, the police know who they are also in Jordan Valley, it's very easy to do something. But there is no political will.


Hadar Susskind  27:17

I'm going to do something I don't usually do, which is just interject a little point. And I have a question, because there have been a lot of questions about what the US can do, what should the US do? So just want to share with folks one thing that we are talking to people in the administration and talking to people in Congress about, again, as the US, frankly, is struggling to try to answer those questions, right, what can they do right now? What should they do right now, is to make sure that all the efforts to weaken or perhaps destroy the Palestinian Authority are resisted by the US government that there are, you know, those within the Israeli government who are opposing, giving the tax funds to the PA, there are those who are saying, Hagit, building off what you were saying that this is the opportunity to get rid of the PA also. And that's definitely a piece that we're talking to folks here about speaking out against the settler violence and speaking out against those efforts. And then the question I want to put to you guys, there's been reporting about recent arms transfers from the US to Israel. And there's also reporting, which is separate. But here comes the question about the Israeli government giving arms to the settlers to defend themselves. So we're getting a couple different people asking whether those are connected and whether we think that those weapons are going to settlers, and we know that or not, I'll just say that the State Department has said that the Israeli government said we're not going to do that. So that's like, the first line is someone in the Israeli government telling the State Department "No, no, we're not going to give them those guns". But what are you actually seeing and what do you know on the ground about this?


Hagit Ofran  29:05

I think there are two things that Israel is now doing with weapons. One is in general, telling people if you want a weapon for your personal use, it's now going to be easier to get a license to get guns, so more people will be allowed to carry guns, and especially if you're a settler, that's one condition that almost automatically allows you now.


Hadar Susskind  29:37

I think it literally does. I said what I thought it literally does, my understanding, and tell me if I'm wrong, was that if you live in a settlement, you just have to ask for one and even if you've been convicted of a violent crime, even if you have other things that normally would keep you from getting a gun...


Hagit Ofran  29:54

I don't think it's like nothing at all, but almost nothing additional to living in a settlement. And that wasn't the case, five weeks ago, five weeks ago, you, you had to be some kind of, you know, trained and other things. But the other things that are going on is that technically giving weapons to settlers, and here if I understand correctly, some of it is going to be, it's not that now you own a gun privately, but it's like the gun of your settlement. So it's like, I don't know, if they put it in one place and if you're on guard, you take it, or you take it anyway. And there are the guns that the government is giving away to settlers. And there are also initiatives of the settler communities or the settler regional councils who took money from donors from the US. And he was saying from Miami and other places that donated money, to buy hundreds of guns to be distributed in the northern West Bank to settlers. In terms of American guns, specifically the M16. Did they use those? I don't know. There are so many videos that they put out how they distribute guns. It's really sad, what's going on. So I don't know if they included the M16 or American weapon there or not, I don't know.


Yoni Mizrachi  30:24

Well, if I can add to that, to that, actually. I just want to say one thing. Like Hagit mentioned before October 7, it was very difficult to get a license for weapons in Israel, it was not easy. You have to be a solid, trained soldier for years in the Army and things like that, maybe a bit less. Now you still need to be like if you have to be like, above 21. And with one year of training in the army. It doesn't matter what level, you can be a fighter. So it's become much easier. Also, obviously it will take time until people get their license. But I just want to say because I noticed about the weapons and then I saw for example, they are still using the M16. Definitely. I mean, they're still using M16, the settlers, but I think it's a gun they got from before, like this is the most popular weapon, but when we're talking about a Council, they bought hundreds of guns, like Hagit mentioned, they actually bought guns from at the factory in Israel.


Hadar Susskind  33:27

Okay, slightly different topic question, because that one was really depressing. Not that this one is so great, but it's better. Somebody asked about today's high court decision stating that settlers have been unlawfully occupying a specific piece of land Palestinian land in the Jordan Valley. A: Can you just tell us a little bit about that? And B: Do you think that that, you know, the fact that there's some demonstration of some function of justice, you know, in a small sense, you know, does that have any kind of positive impact on the broader situation?


Hagit Ofran  34:06

The ruling, I think exists today, is about many dunams that were taking private Palestinian lands that were taken by settlers in the Jordan Valley that are used to grow dates. The court had no choice but to rule that it's illegal because it's privately owned by Palestinians. And the ruling is, you know, they give seven years to the settlers, you know, to find alternatives so that they will not lose so much. But eventually it says, in seven years, the land should go back to the owner. That's a good outcome. But I think politically right now, it has no effect. You know, everyone is distracted. And I think it's a good thing, because what usually happens then, is that the right wing is using those rulings in order to attack the court even more.


Hadar Susskind  35:30

Now, not that they're not attacking the court as it is, but it would have been one more. So different questions going back to the conversation around soldiers and settlers, and sometimes they're the same people, and sometimes they're different people. We have a question here about whether there have been any instances of soldiers either refusing to participate in violence against Palestinians, etc, in the West Bank over these last weeks, or even reporting abuses? You know, or are we just seeing the army and the settlers line up together?


Yoni Mizrachi  36:28

Usually, as probably some of you know, there's an organization called Breaking the Silence. We're actually collecting information from soldiers, but they usually collect information after the event. I don't remember what the cases were, soldiers in the middle of an event or something like that. I don't remember about other cases, but maybe...


Hagit Ofran  37:17

It's not a refusal thing. It's always the person, or the commander in the place who will set the tone for what will happen. Okay. So there are commanders that will tell their soldiers not to hit any prisoner or not to not to touch anybody, and others that will encourage beating up Palestinians. And I think many of what we're talking about, that soldiers, reserve soldiers, that are actually settlers are going into those small communities and setting fire on houses or stealing the water or things of the sort. It's like a small unit, that is all corrupt, I will say. And in other places, the soldiers will not do that, if they are not politically motivated to kick out Palestinians.


Hadar Susskind  38:41

So I mentioned briefly the government's efforts or the efforts of some in the government to weaken and perhaps totally destroy the Palestinian Authority. Can you talk a little bit about what the PA is doing right now? How are they trying to keep things from boiling over? What do you know, what are they able to do? What are the challenges they're facing now?


Hagit Ofran  39:21

I don't know much. I knew that in the beginning. Like, immediately after the seventh of October, there were riots of Palestinians in the streets of Ramallah, of Janin, of Nablus. Many Palestinians went out to this to the streets and actually they were demonstrating against the PA or they were actually going out because of the shooting in Gaza and angry but then they turned to protest against the PA and the PA A Palestinian Authority was very strong in, you know, dispersing the riots. And I think they were afraid of losing control. So they used power against their own people, I don't know, to what extent what we call the security, the coordination, which is the assistance that the Palestinian Authority is giving Israel is now working. I believe Israel has detained, I think around 1000 people, Palestinians, since the seventh of October, saying that they are Hamas activists, you know, trying to prevent things from happening. Also in the West Bank, I don't know to what extent there was assistance from the Palestinian Authority. I believe that was because that the Palestinian Authority is helping Israel in those arrests in those activities, in coordination with Israel. The challenge of the PA is huge, huge. I mean, they you know, from a Palestinian perspective, they gave nothing, they manage to get nothing to the Palestinians. And Abbas, now, with all these horrible things, eventually they made Israel, you know, they score points. And the PA is like, you know, Abbas published condemnation, as soon as things started to be clear about what happened, but then he erased it. I think that's kind of explaining where they stand. I mean, a lot of pressure.


Yoni Mizrachi  42:21

Well, maybe I can add to that. I mean, I also don't really follow... I mean, I follow but I don't know much about what is happening with this Palestinian Authority. But before October 7, if we, again, if we're going back a bit, we already know that the personnel authority lost control engine Janin, Janin is a Palestinian city in the north of the West Bank. People say maybe not in all of Jeanine, maybe only in the meeting only in the refugee camp. But so they try to take back the power there, but they definitely lost the power there. Since October 7, we have seen lots of clashes between the IDF and the Palestinians in Palestinian cities.


Hadar Susskind  43:10

Right now I think there's, you know, shooting happening and Janin literally right now.


Yoni Mizrachi  43:16

In Jenin always, but I just want to say that not only Jenin, we also see a lot of clashes in other cities, maybe a bit more to the west, but also in the north. And, and this to me, is kind of indicating that the Palestinian Authority is losing power, which is not surprising. So the outcome, by the way, until now, until the last week's decision of the Israeli government, if by transferring their own money or not like there was all the calling and the discussions. And so that's when it comes to security. Although like Hagit mentioned, eventually the security forces of the Palestinians are helping us, I mean, crucial to the security of the West Bank.


Hadar Susskind  44:10

So I want to go back actually to the report that you guys just put out and again, for those of you if you didn't see it, we already shared a link in the chat. So you can find it there. What would be the recommendations? What are the steps that could be taken? Again, we know this government is fortunately not likely to take them but it could be taken by the Israeli government, by the Americans, by others to help try to address what's happening in the West Bank and address the settler violence there.


Yoni Mizrachi  44:54

I think that first of all Israel has to decide or the government has to decide that okay, this is a front that we have to deal with, to put energy, time, and efforts, whatever is needed. And we mentioned in the report that we know where the violence is coming from, I mean, more or less, where most of the violent settlers are going out for more organizing, and we see that also, with settlers, it was heating. So I'm saying that because we know that the security forces know what the problem is. And the problem is not that big, that's what I want to say, I mean, it's, it's a problem. It's a problem that can explode. But when you count the number of the settlers who are involved in violence, when you can count the outpost that may be the violence that was going on, so it's something that if the Israeli government will decide to take measures to prevent it, they can do that. And so it's just a matter of will not a matter of other things. And something else, which is obviously that the IDF can must decide and put a clear line to a soldier that if you're a soldier, doesn't matter if you are living in the West Bank settlement or not, you are behaving according to the soldier decision, you cannot go by yourself and evict Palestinians and things like that. So just by enforcing the law, as simple as that, I think a lot of things can be achieved in the West Bank. For this, we need the government. I think that's how I understand it.


Hagit Ofran  46:52

Yeah, and another thing that we mentioned in the report is that there are a few outposts that are the source of a lot of violence. And some of them are very small. And the government can evict them and say, enough is enough, is enough, because they're illegal anyway, they're supposed to be evicted. So if they are causing such a huge problem, and such a threat to the security of Israel, then it's only natural that they should be evicted.


Hadar Susskind  47:33

Yeah, just a note on that they, the settlements, that outpost that Hagit is referring to are illegal even by Israeli law. Right? Of course, under international law, they're all illegal. But even under Israeli Law, these settlements are illegal and yet unfortunately, allowed to, to continue to be there and, you know, tolerated by the government. Okay, I'm gonna go off topic a little bit and take advantage just of having the two of you here to ask you a question. That's not about settler violence and the report. So my apologies for the wildcard. People are very understandably dealing with the day to day of the war right now, what is happening in Israel, Gaza, the West Bank also. But people, at least outside of the Israeli government, which appears to not be thinking about the day after, are thinking about the day after. What do you think we're going to see in Israel politically when this war ends?


Hagit Ofran  48:42

Thank you, Hadar for asking this. I think it's a very important moment. And we should think about it and maybe I will leave the question of what we think will happen to Yoni... I want to say this is a huge crisis. But it's also an opportunity. And I think things are not going to be the same in many ways. And the cement is still wet. And I think now is the time for us to try to shape it. So that it will go in the direction of a change to the right direction, to the possibility of, of the end of occupation and end in a two-state outcome. Maybe it's wishful thinking. But I do believe that now, Israelis understand that the Palestinian issue is not to be neglected, we cannot say that it's not a problem, we cannot say that it's not a priority. And I think also that many would agree now that we cannot continue with what we did all the time. And I think most Israelis, I always thought that most Israelis don't really care about the settlements and the West Bank. And I think if, if pressures are put strongly enough, we may get the ship to turn to a new direction, I hope, I hope. And if I may, also add one point about pressures, I think we are so lucky that we have the American involvement here. And this administration's close attention to everything that is going on here, I mean, for me is like, Oh, finally, we have a reasonable adult. Not that I'm praying, you know, to have for foreign entities to control Israel. But in our case, with our government, we do need an adult. And I think the fact that you got Netanyahu to say something about settler violence, for instance, is only because of the American involvement. And it's only because the Americans understood that it's an issue. And it's very important. And of course, that's a very small thing that the American environment is now giving us, of course, we're talking about director security, etc. So I hope that this involvement will be used to push us to stop this occupation, because it's not viable. It's not sustainable. And we have to start something.


Hadar Susskind  52:47

Thank you Hagit, just only before I turn it to you, I want to say, you talked earlier about how settlers and the minister, Minister of Settlements, and others are looking at this war as an opportunity, right, it's an opportunity to kick Palestinians out to do all sorts of other things. Change follows trauma, in many cases, it follows traumatic events. We know this from Israel's own history. We know it from everywhere else in the world. And there is no doubt that for Israelis and Palestinians, I think, frankly, for everyone else, there is no going back to October 6. And so what comes next remains unknown. But there is both the possibility and certainly the necessity for us to take that moment and hopefully, turn it to something better. So thank you. Yoni, you want to add either what you hope, but also what you think we might see?


Yoni Mizrachi  53:54

Yeah, I mean, I hope and think that we are a bit optimistic. It's not just October 7, I think that the last year, let if I'm looking at 2023 a lot of things happened and changed in Israeli society and in the Israeli public. I mean, when we talk about this administration, people that decided that they want to fight for their rights, for how they see democracy and things like that, although they were not involved in the occupation and activists in the occupation say that it's not enough and things like that. I think there was kind of a movement that is very important and very relevant to what I hope and believe we will see after the war. Like there's kind of a public that demands its rights and demands a change. And I think that what happened again, I also hope maybe, maybe I'm wrong, but what what will happen is that these people will demand also a change in the West Bank, because it's very clear that the Palestinian issue is part of the Israeli problem which will was not clear before October 7 for many people. So this is why I'm optimistic. And I think that let's say we have lots of public behind us. I hope so. So okay, because the sarcastic people say, but the demonstration has only 500 people coming, but I believe that something is going to change because of that. And I think also and then when I see the international situation here, people understand that we have to stay in the moderate forces and not extremists. So I'm also optimistic about this. And my only concern is going back to you is what will be the who will be the how will be the new administration in the United States? Obviously, that's the important factor. That's how I understand it.


Hadar Susskind  56:01

Yeah. Well, we're concerned about that too, in a non-partisan 501(c)(3) fashion, of course. So again, I just, you know, I want to thank you both. I think we all have to deal with reality right now. We all deal with what's happening in the West Bank, in Israel in Gaza, the impacts on Israelis and Palestinians. And, you know, and, frankly, what's happening here in the US, I mean, this is, like I said, before we started publicly, we are of course, experiencing, you know, the the reflections, the ripples of what you guys are living in the day to day, but it is absolutely changing the reality in America and the American Jewish community, and in America at large, as well. So I think we hopefully, have seen a gate, like you said, the end of the concept of shrinking the conflict or managing the conflict that more Israelis and certainly more Americans, I think are coming to the understanding that that is unsustainable. And whether it is as part of some possible Saudi deal that was being discussed, broader pieces, different efforts. You know, we know we need to find a new way forward, Ori has just put in the chat and subtly reminded me thank you or that again, we will be sharing the audio recording of this as a PeaceCast episode later, and the video as well. So Hagit, Yoni, thank you both. Thank you for being with us today. Thank you for all the work, sending love from all of us to you and your families and everyone there. And thank you to everyone who joined. We will see you another time. Thank you, everybody.