WHAT DO PALESTINIANS REALLY THINK OF ISRAEL ?
The following are quotes from ordinary Palestinians. No names, no pack drill.
"I can't vote. I'm afraid I'll get into trouble. I don't want to take any chances (of losing my residency in Jewish Jerusalem.)"
"Are you kidding? To bring a corrupt [Palestinian] Authority here. This is just what we are missing."
“The whole world seems to be talking about the future of the Arabs of Jerusalem, but no one has bothered asking us. The international community and the Israeli Left seem to take it for granted that we want to live under Mr. Arafat's control. We don't. Most of us despise Mr. Arafat and the cronies around him, and we want to stay in Israel. At least here I can speak my mind freely without being dumped in prison, as well as having a chance to earn an honest day's wage.”
"The hell of Israel is better than the paradise of Arafat. We know Israeli rule stinks, but sometimes we feel like Palestinian rule would be worse."
"If a secret poll was conducted, I am sure an overwhelming majority of Jerusalem Arabs would say they would prefer to stay in Israel."
"They tell me—we are not like Gaza or the West Bank. We hold Israeli IDs. We are used to a higher standard of living. Even if Israeli rule is not so good, it is still better than that of the PA."
"I prefer Israeli control."
"I can only tell you to pray that the Israelis don't leave your town," because "the Jews are more human" than Palestinians.
"For 33 years, we have been part of the State of Israel. But now our rights have been forgotten....We won't accept a situation where we are led like sheep to the slaughterhouse."
“The majority of Palestinians reject Arafat's corrupt and tyrannical rule. Look what he's done in Lebanon, Jordan, and now in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He has brought one disaster after another on his people."
"Yasir Arafat runs a dictatorship, not a democracy. No one here would accept to live under that regime. I've done my [Israeli] national service; I am a student here and a member of the Israeli Football Association. Why would they transfer me? Is that logical or legitimate?"
"The ‘evil' of Israel is better than the ‘heaven' of the West Bank."
"Here you can say whatever you like and do whatever you want—so long as you don't touch the security of Israel. Over there, if you talk about Arafat, they can arrest you and beat you up."
"Mr. Sharon seems to want us to join an unknown state that doesn't have a parliament, or a democracy, or even decent universities. We have close family ties in the West Bank, but we prefer to demand our full rights inside Israel."
"Despite the discrimination and injustice faced by Arab citizens, the democracy and justice in Israel is better than the democracy and justice in Arab and Islamic countries."
“The idea of PA control is...a dangerous, antidemocratic suggestion."
“We fought [the Israeli authorities so as] to be inside of the fence, and they moved it so we are still in Israel. We have many links to Israel. What have we to do with the Palestinian Authority?"
"We are an integral part of Israel and will never be part of a Palestinian state. We have always lived in Israel and there is absolutely no chance that that will change."
"We no longer fear the Israelis or the Americans, regardless of their hostility, but we now fear our Arab ‘brothers.' “
"The Arabs say they're our friends, and treat us worse than the Israelis do."
"I wish Israel would just take over Jordan. The Israelis are the only people around here who are organized, who know how to get things done. And they're not bad people. They're straight. They keep their word. The Arabs can't do anything right. Look at this so-called democracy in Jordan. It's a complete joke."
"Palestinians (in Kuwait) are receiving treatment even worse than they have had at the hands of their enemies, the Israelis."
"Now (after Kuwait) I feel Israel is paradise. I love the Israelis now. I know they treat us like humans. The West Bank [still then under Israeli control] is better [than Kuwait]. At least before the Israelis arrest you, they bring you a paper."
"I'll never forget that day during the Lebanon war [of 1982], when an Arab Knesset member got up and called [Prime Minister Menachem] Begin a murderer. Begin didn't do a thing [in response]. If you did that to Arafat, I don't think you'd make it home that night."
"Even the Jews did not behave like you cowards." Hamas supporter to PA policemen
“My experience in a PA jail was much worse than an Israeli jail!”
“Israeli soldiers...would first fire tear gas, and then fire rubber bullets, and only then shoot live ammunition. They never shot at us without a direct order to shoot, and then they only shot a few bullets. But these Palestinian police started shooting immediately, and they shot everywhere."
"The measures they are taking against the Palestinian media, including the arrest of journalists and the closure of newspapers, are much worse than those taken by the Israelis against the Palestinian press."
"During the Israeli occupation, I was 100 times freer [than under the Palestinian Authority]."
"Can anyone imagine that a family would be happy to hear a knock at the door in the middle of the night from the Israeli army?"
"When the infighting began in Gaza, the people were happy because the Israeli army imposed a curfew."
"We saw representatives of the Israeli opposition criticize [Israeli prime minister Ehud] Barak and they were not arrested … but in our case, the Palestinian Authority arrests people as the first order of business."
“When the Palestinian state comes into existence....the sacred union against the Zionist enemy will die. It will be time to settle accounts. We (Palestinian christians) will undergo the same as our Lebanese brothers or the Copts in Egypt. It saddens me to say so, but Israeli laws protect us."
"There is a difference between the Israeli and the PA occupation....The Israelis whom I met with over the years have been diverse. Some have been insensitive to our needs, and some have not been. On the other hand, the Arafat/Rajoub regime is more than simply "corrupt." It is exclusively interested in setting up a dictatorship in which Palestinian citizens will have no civil liberties whatsoever.
"The Israelis took our land, but when it comes to governing, they know what they're doing."
"we want to stay in Israel. At least here I can speak my mind freely without being dumped in prison, as well as having a chance to earn an honest day's wage."
“Palestine is an unknown state that doesn't have a parliament, or a democracy, or even decent universities."
"When the Israelis were here, we lived our lives better than now, in every way. Believe me. Look how the streets of Gaza are not clean,"
"I think that Iran is more dangerous to Iraq than Israel because of the assassinations that the Iranians have been doing. I think Israel would have been more merciful,"
"I hated Israel before the (Iraq) war, but now I hate Iran even more."
"Sunni Muslims have begun to ask: Is Israel really Iraq's enemy, or is it neighboring Iran? … privately many said Israel has not done anything lately to harm them; Iran has."
“Iranian interference in the election...was very clear and that makes Iran the number one enemy of Iraq. The Iranians have many supporters in Iraq. Israel is an enemy, but they are not as egregious."
"The Israelis are better than you!" (The Palestinian authority)
“We pray that Israel will come back and rule us again."
"People in Gaza are hoping that Israel will reenter the Gaza Strip, wipe out both Hamas and Fatah, and then withdraw again... They also say that, since the [start of the] massacres, they [have begun to] miss the Israelis, since Israel is more merciful than [the Palestinian gunmen] who do not even know why they are fighting and killing one another. It's like organized crime, [they said]. Once, we resisted Israel together, but now we call for the return of the Israeli army to Gaza."
"When the national unity government was formed, I thought, 'This will be a government of national salvation.' If a government that includes Fatah, Hamas, other factions and independents associated with [various] factions has not been able to save the day, it means that no one can, unless Israel decides that its army should intervene. Then it will invade [the Gaza Strip], kill and arrest [people] - but this time not as an occupying [force] but as an international peace-keeping force. Look what we have come to, how far we have deteriorated, and what we have done to ourselves."
"We should have the courage to acknowledge the truth... The [only] thing that prevents the chaos and turmoil in Gaza from spreading to the West Bank is the presence of the Israeli occupation [in the West Bank]... [as opposed to] its absence from the Gaza Strip."
"If a there was a referendum in the Gaza Strip [on the question of] 'would you like the Israeli occupation to return?' half the population would vote 'yes'... But in practice, I believe that the number of those in favor is at least 70%, if not more.
“...For the million and a half people living in this small region, things have [simply] gone too far - in practice, not just as a metaphor. [It did not begin] with the internal conflicts, but even earlier, in the days of the previous Palestinian administration, which was corrupt and did not give the people even the tiniest [ray of] hope. The fundamentalist forces which came into power [after it] also promised change and reform, but [instead, people] got a siege, with no security and no [chance of] making a living... If the occupation returns, at least there will be no civil war, and the occupier will have a moral and legal obligation to provide the occupied people with employment and food, which they now lack."
"If there was a referendum here, no one would vote to join the Palestinian Authority,"
"We will not accept it. There would be another intifada [uprising] to defend ourselves from the PA."
"I don't believe in these factions. I only believe in putting bread on the table for my children. I fight only for them. At least in Israel, there's law."
"I don't want to have any part in the PA. I want the health insurance, the schools, all the things we get by living here...I'll go and live in Israel before I'll stay here and live under the PA, even if it means taking an Israeli passport...I have seen their suffering in the PA. We have a lot of privileges I'm not ready to give up."
"We have no faith in the Palestinian Authority. It has no credibility...I do not want to be ruled by Abbas's gang,"
“Please, I must have a Jewish policeman to do the investigation. A Moslem policeman might ask me to sleep with him in return for his help!” Arab girl in Jerusalem police station.
“I was born in Jerusalem, this is where I grew up and this is where I make my living. My entire life is here. My wife comes from the West Bank, so I do fear she may be deported and therefore filed a naturalization request for her as well. I want to keep living here with my wife and child without having to worry about our future. That's why I want an Israeli citizenship. I don't know what the future holds. There's talk of the Palestinian Authority coming to Jerusalem. Personally, I don't think that will happen. But only God knows what will happen. I work as a mechanic for an Israeli company, I have both Jewish and Arab friends. I speak Hebrew and go out to Tel Aviv and Akko in the evenings. I just want a better future.”
"If they put a border here, we'll move to Haifa and Tel Aviv. You'll have 50,000 people who live here leaving East Jerusalem in minutes."
"I want to live in peace and to raise my children in an orderly school. I don't want to raise my child on throwing stones, or on Hamas." …
"I'll never go," he says. "Where are the jobs that the Palestinian Authority can offer us? Do they want us too to be beggars waiting for international aid?”
"They are being overtaxed and the state isn't giving them what they need...Nevertheless, they feel the benefits that Israel is providing - health care, free movement and jobs. People are worried about what will happen to them, and what their situation will be, because their livelihood is in Jerusalem and they fear they may lose access to Jerusalem."
"I want the camp to stay with Israel because the PA is a ruthless institution."
"I rely on Israeli welfare for my nine children. They won't give us any money in the Palestinian Authority."
"It wasn't like this when Israel controlled it (Gaza). We had jobs, and were safe. Now, Hamas has made Gaza into a mess. No one wants to live there."
“We wish to express our sharp opposition to any initiative taken by the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority with regard to our civil, political and human rights ...We wish to make it clear that as citizens of the State of Israel since 1948-1949... the proposed moving of borders will deprive us of these human rights and tear apart the social and economic ties that have been constructed on the basis of a long and difficult struggle..
“This is a painful subject. Why would anyone assume that because I am a Palestinian, I must live in Palestine? After all, no one would say that if I were a Jew, I must live in Israel. I am a Palestinian citizen of Israel, a country that was established in 1948 according to international agreements, so I accept the fact that the State of Israel exists as a sovereign state. But I also expect the State of Israel to grant me equality and not to question my right to citizenship. Of course, I live with a conflict - between my nationality, Arab and Palestinian, and my citizenship, Israeli. But the Zionists created this dilemma, so you have to solve it - by giving us equality, by giving us equal rights and equal budgets, and by not trading on our citizenship.
"I cannot argue with feelings. I can tell you that we want to work together with the Jewish majority for the betterment of all of Israel. Religiously, politically and socially, we want to remain part of the State of Israel."
"What can the Palestinian Authority offer me? Poverty without hope of a better life? I'd rather stay here, even if I have to struggle for my rights."
"I don't want you to use my name...When the Jews talk about swapping me, it's as though they are denying my right to be a person, and my baby's right, too. They want to move me around, like I'm no one. So I don't want them to know my name... Umm el-Fahm...is my home. It's not just where I live, it's who I am. I'm a Palestinian and I'm an Israeli, too. For 60 years, we've lived here. I think like a Palestinian, but I think like an Israeli, too. My daily life is Israeli."
"I want to be part of Palestine, because I want to establish an Islamic state, like the Hamas has done in Gaza, only better. I don't care at all about my Israeli citizenship... (I know only) a very few people who agree with me...I don't bring the subject up when I'm with my family. They're all against it. They've always lived here, for 60 years they've been part of Israel, and that's how they want it to be."