Mixed Up in the Middle East

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    • 00:30

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Reya El-Salahi taking you through Sundayevening.I'm Reya, and I'm 25.On my weekly radio show I explore race and identityin Britain.My own background's complicated.I'm mixed Arab-Muslim, and Jewish.Now I'm going to Israel to try to understand the conflict that

    • 00:50

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: divides my own family.It's a conflict over land and powerin Israel between Jewish Israelisand Arab Palestinians has been going on for decades.It's a really dangerous place to be the sort of person I am.And I can imagine a lot of people won't take that well.

    • 01:13

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: I'm definitely not ready for some part of Israeli life.And in some places being mixed puts mein a difficult position.My dad would not be allowed here.And he be mistrusted.I see the divisions created in the name of security.I can't really imagine what it would be like that this,this is your view out of your bedroom window.

    • 01:34

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: And ancient divisions that leave me isolated.I know it's not religion itself, and blah, blah, blah, blah,blah.But religion is bullshit.I see victims of the conflict here on the Palestinian side.Eyes are burning, my skin's burning,and I feel like I'm going to be sick.No, I can't see any justificationfor shooting tear gas at kids.And I see how Palestinian violence affects Israelis.

    • 01:57

      WOMAN: His head just popped off like a champagne cork.

    • 02:01

      REYA EL-SALAHI: I don't know if I'mgoing to find any place in this country where I belong.Completely haunted by what I saw.That will never leave me.[MIXED UP IN THE MIDDLE EAST]Growing up mixed race in Britain is complicated,but my background is extra difficult.

    • 02:24

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: My dad is North African-Arab Muslim background,my mom was born and brought up in Britain, but she's Jewish.When my mom met my dad her mom actually refused to meet him.My mom's side, my dad's side-- we don't mix too much.I'd love for both sides of the family to be more integrated,and put aside their politics.

    • 02:47

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: Just to be able to have Christmas together,of all events.Or Eve, or Hanukkah.My family wrestles with how to feel about the conflict.Even my Jewish mother has had doubts about Israel.

    • 03:00

      REYA'S MOM: I was born just after the war,always have my parents talking about the Holocaust.And Israel was somewhere to look to and to support.It was our place.But my views on that changed.And I now, for many years now, I don't support the Jewish state.I want and secular state for everyone in the Middle East.

    • 03:24

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Am I Jewish or am I Muslim?At the moment that's not somethingI'm willing to decide about.I feel like I'm both, and that is answer.My brother Zachy went to Israel 10 years agoin a pro-Palestinian student group.

    • 03:36

      ZACH: You don't want to see people being killed anywhere.I think Israelis, they've got to accept that,if they're occupying someones' land,then there's going to be a reaction.

    • 03:43

      REYA EL-SALAHI: But also, I thinkthere's that sense you have your opinions,and you're quite sure in what you think.And then the other side of the familyare more mom's side that are pro-Israel,have their opinions, and it's like there's no middle ground.It's my farewell dinner.

    • 04:04

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: My family is supportive of my journey to Israel,but well aware that parts of it could be dangerous too.

    • 04:10

      REYA'S FATHER: I'm quite scared about it.[INAUDIBLE]I wish that is you go the and do your job and come back safely.

    • 04:30

      REYA EL-SALAHI: The best outcome from this trip,for me-- the absolute ideal-- wouldbe to come away feeling like I know more about who I am.The worst thing that can come out of thisis that I don't belong anywhere.I want to come back being like, it'sopened a door to find out more, not like it's closed a door.

    • 05:01

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: My first experience in Israel is not a good sign.Everyone in the crew gets through passport control,but I get taken away for questioning.[INAUDIBLE]That is to be expected, isn't it?I can't come here like Los Angelesexpecting to be walking through, waving, skipping, holding

    • 05:23

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: hands [INAUDIBLE].But, at the same time, it is justfunny to sit in that room and everyone in there is brown.And everyone getting through with no problemseems to be lighter skinned.I don't know, maybe it's just a coincidence.But the fact that the only other guy in therewas called Mohammad is a bit like, what a surprise!My name is Reya El-Salahi, nice to meet you!

    • 05:48

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: The modern country of Israel was foundedin 1948 following the Holocaust of the Second World War.Before that, Jews were scattered all over the world.But Palestinian Arabs say this land is theirs,because they've lived here for over 1,000 years.My first impression of Israel was a bit intimidating.

    • 06:09

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: But tomorrow I'm meeting some young Israeliswho will help me figure out what Tel Aviv is really like.I hope.I'm meeting Karen Cohen, a Jewish girl born in Israel whowent to university in the UK.

    • 06:29

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: She moved back to Tel Aviv two years ago,and she and her friend Shanai arekeen to show me what they like about Israel.Hey.Lovely to meet you.

    • 06:39

      WOMAN: Hi, Reya.Nice to meet you.

    • 06:40

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Hello, lovely to meet you.Thank you for taking me around.I'm very excited.We have to get our bags checked?OK.

    • 06:49

      WOMAN: Yeah, you have to every time.

    • 06:50

      REYA EL SALAHI: Whenever you're going in and out of a shop?

    • 06:51

      WOMAN: You have to get your bags checked.

    • 06:53

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Oh, wow.

    • 06:55

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Karen and Shanai havedecided I'm going to get to knowthis citywith some good, old-fashioned retail therapy.

    • 07:01

      REYA EL-SALAHI: It's a bit wrong that I'm going straightfor the disgusting bright pink.

    • 07:05

      WOMAN: Do it!

    • 07:06

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Poptastic!Thank you.I'm feeling ready to go out now.

    • 07:17

      WOMAN: Yeah, now we're ready

    • 07:21

      REYA EL-SALAHI: I was having such a great, girly day.But then, on our way to the beach,we heard there had been violent attacksby Islamic militants on a town just three hours away.Eight people were killed.To me that's really scary.Does it not, in a way, put of off of you living here?That there is that, as much as you've got this beautiful beachlife, beautiful shopping--

    • 07:41

      WOMAN: I think that--

    • 07:42

      REYA EL-SALAHI: You've got to the side?

    • 07:44

      WOMAN: Just like anywhere else you can, I don't know,get run over by a car.I don't think that it shortens my lifethat I live in Israel, because anything can happen anywhere.

    • 07:55

      WOMAN: Don't forget that we grew up in this reality,so we kind of get to know it.It still shocks us every time.But we just know that we have to carry on.

    • 08:04

      REYA EL-SALAHI: After a few drinks on the beachis not too hard to forget about the threat of violence.But I don't know if I could live with it every day,like young Israelis do.Today I'm going to one of the mostcontentious places in Israel, a Jewish settlement

    • 08:25

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: called Itamar.Earlier this year a settled familywas brutally murdered there.Two young Palestinians from a nearby villagewere arrested for the killings.I've been invited because of my Jewish side.But given my Arab side I'm not sure the receptionI'll actually get.Today I'm going to have to stop all

    • 08:48

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: of that bright pink fluffy stuff for this, body armor.Which is really weird, within the spaceof two days in a country.That was yesterday.This is today.Settlers are Zionists, who believethey have a sacred duty to build communities everywhere

    • 09:10

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: in Israel.On land that Palestinian Arabs say is theirs.Settlements are considered illegalunder international law.Itamar is surround by Palestinian villages,deep in the heart of disputed territory.It's protected by the Israeli army,and security is really tight.I'm meeting rabbi Moshe Goldsmith the Mayor here.

    • 09:33

      MOSHE GOLDSMITH: God gave us our homelandand obviously the deed to the land is the Bible.We have the right to return to our land.And have to work hard for it.

    • 09:43

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Moshe shows me a memorial to young people killedin attacks on the settlement.

    • 09:48

      MOSHE GOLDSMITH: [INAUDIBLE].All of these boys from the school, these threewere killed here on premises, these three boys.

    • 09:58

      REYA EL-SALAHI: He looks so young.

    • 09:59

      MOSHE GOLDSMITH: They are, sure.They all were-- don't forget they're up to 17, 18 yearsold, these boys.Look, this is tragedy.Very difficult tragedy.This is the price, a terrible price,Israel is paying to be Israel, just to want to live.

    • 10:15

      REYA EL-SALAHI: It's a bit strange.I think some members of family, they wouldn't be allowed here.That's why I feel so comfortable.And my dad would not be allowed here.And he'd be mistrusted.Which is why it's really strange.But I'm interested to find out more.I was really surprised and pleased when Moshe invited me

    • 10:36

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: to his home.He's lived here since 1985, when the settlement was justtwo rows of houses.Now over 1000 people live here.Moshe's daughter [INAUDIBLE] is studyingto be a makeup artist in Tel Aviv.What's life like living here, for young people?Is it fun?

    • 10:56

      GIRL: Yeah, I love it.The world is upside-down, everything is so mixed up.And my head hurts, and I come here and I feel peaceful.It's like, I'm so happy, I'm so lucky to live here.It's kind of like a bubble.

    • 11:15

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Moshe took me to the site of the horrific crimethat happened nine months ago.The Fogel family lived here.Both parents and three of their childrenwere murdered on a Sabbath night,including a three-month-old baby.God, I can't begin to imagine what that must be like.The two young Palestinian men arrested for the murderswere from the village of Iwata, just across the valley.

    • 11:37

      MOSHE GOLDSMITH: The daughter Tamar was 12 years old.She's the oldest daughter of the family.And she escorted her friends out and around 10:15 at the home.At that moment the terrorist lookedand they saw one of the kids in the house.They ran around.The door was open.They went in the house.They locked the door from the inside.And they grabbed a hold of this boy and they cut his throat.

    • 11:58

      MOSHE GOLDSMITH [continued]: And then they went to the next one.And the next room they killed another boy.And they went to the parents' bedroom.And they first killed the father.And then the mother came out.They murdered the mother.And they went in the house and heard the baby cry.They came back in and they cut the throat of the little baby,they stabbed the baby.David about that big.

    • 12:20

      REYA EL-SALAHI: The Fogel's daughter Tamardiscovered the bodies of her family when she came home.

    • 12:25

      MOSHE GOLDSMITH: She runs out of the house screaming.The whole community woke up from her screams.And unfortunately we found this horrible, horrific story.We found this terrible bloodshed right here.

    • 12:38

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Two of the Fogel's little boyssurvived because they were asleep.Along with they're sister, they don't live in Itamar anymore.What did it make you think of the people thatdid it in the village that this just in sight of where we are?

    • 12:52

      MOSHE GOLDSMITH: I think it's almost hardto believe that they would do something like that.More of a disbelief, like, how is it possiblethat human beings could come alongand, in such a cruel way, murder childrenand a family on the Sabbath?

    • 13:04

      REYA EL SALAHI: What would you sayto people that would say this is Palestine,this is the West Bank, and therefore it'sPalestine territory?

    • 13:11

      MOSHE GOLDSMITH: I would say to themthe best seller of any book in the world is the Bible.And the Bible is an outright history,the deed to the land of Israel, from the Jewish people.

    • 13:24

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Although I was shocked by the murders,I found Moshe's beliefs difficult to getmy head around.I can't understand how, based on a book,you can feel you have a right to live in a land.It just doesn't make sense to me, yet.But I couldn't stop thinking about the Fogel family.I was thinking that I'd love to know what my brother would say

    • 13:45

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: to the thought of a child his daughter's age being stoppedin her cot.And I don't know what he'd say about that,because the loss of life or either sideis wrong and terrible.And yet that was one side of the story.People are dead that fact.But I'd like to speak to the other side.

    • 14:08

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: I'd like to hear what the other side had to say.If I can, later in my trip I'm going to visit the Arab villageMoshe pointed out so close across the valley to Itamar.But first I want to find out about onedefining feature of Israeli life.Israeli citizens must join the army for two to three years,and it's an important experience for most young Jews here.

    • 14:31

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: Arab Israeli's are exempted.They can volunteer, but it's rare.I'm meeting a young lieutenant called Karen [INAUDIBLE]The Israeli defense forces arranged for meto spend the day with her in her flat,and tomorrow on her army base.There's a press officer with us all the time.

    • 14:54

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: [SPEAKING HEBREW]I mean, who doesn't have basil in their market?Karen was born and grew up in London.But two years ago, she moved here on her ownto join the Army.In Israel women serve on the front line and in combat.

    • 15:16

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: I asked her what prompted such a huge decision.

    • 15:19

      KAREN: Israel is just such an important part of Judaism.And there's just so much of a reason to be here.So much of an importance, as a person, for me to be here.And, really, I've never been this happy in my life.And I was a happy, spoiled, little British girl in London.

    • 15:39

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Karen was so upbeatabout the army and Israel.On your hand, you've got a tattoo?

    • 15:46

      KAREN: It's not actually a tattoo.I don't know why, I take a pen and I justdraw the Star of David on my hand.Every time I'm going to my watch,it's like, what's the time?Oh, it's time to love Israel, or something.I don't know.

    • 16:04

      REYA EL-SALAHI: We're driving to Karen's base in the far south.

    • 16:13

      KAREN: Safety here is vital.Don't go in any area that I don't tell you to go.Make sure you stay with me the whole time.Shooting is something that every soldier has to go through.They need to know how to protect themselves.At the end of the day, we're an army.And we have to defend our country and our people.So we're going to go now.Don't be scared, I'm with you.

    • 16:33

      KAREN [continued]: Don't worry, hold my hands.I got you, it's fine.You ready?

    • 16:38

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Yes, I'm ready.

    • 16:39

      KAREN: Amazing, let's go in.

    • 16:45

      WOMAN: Good afternoon!We're now going to do some shooting!And I will now give the order of fire.[NON-ENGLISH]

    • 17:17

      WOMAN [continued]: Check that you are on safety, stand up, and hold your weaponsat 60 degrees in the air.[SPEAKING HEBREW]10/10, well done!

    • 17:32

      REYA EL-SALAHI: I take them off altogether?

    • 17:33

      KAREN: You're fine everyone's stopped shooting.

    • 17:36

      WOMAN: What about you?8/10 from a girl, that's impressive.

    • 17:40

      WOMAN: Chauvinist.

    • 17:41

      WOMAN: I'm not chauvinist, I'm justshowing the world that women are able to do this as well.

    • 17:46

      REYA EL-SALAHI: I thought coming down here I would have a go.I was quite pumped.I'd really fancy having a go, it's a once in a lifetimekind of thing.Seeing it now, I definitely don't want to have a go.And the thought of me as an 18-year-old being given a gun,I hate to think.I was just thinking there's x amount of peoplestanding within arm's reach of me with deadly weapons.And I've never, ever experienced that before, people my age

    • 18:09

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: so it was quite weird.Karen brings me to try out an armored personnel carrier.

    • 18:17

      KAREN: OK, hold onto everything, nothing comes offand there you go.The next step that you're going to have to take,that is going to be very brave of you,is you're going to have to put on a helmet.And just put in on your head like this.

    • 18:28

      REYA EL-SALAHI: It doesn't fit on my head.

    • 18:29

      KAREN: It does.You've just got to yank it.You've just got to yank it.

    • 18:32

      REYA EL-SALAHI: You've got to have your hair styledwhen you have to wear this.

    • 18:34

      KAREN: Well, that's the reason why you just-- Hold on to it?

    • 18:37

      REYA EL-SALAHI: I'll hold onto it.

    • 18:38

      KAREN: OK fine, you just hold onto it.

    • 18:43

      REYA EL-SALAHI: I would seriously have a freaked out.No, I would really freak out.It's so tight.

    • 18:47

      KAREN: You know it's crazy?To know that people our age have to sleep in this.

    • 18:53

      REYA EL-SALAHI: I really doubt what I've experienced todayis what army life is like it's actually like.She's not just saying it, she clearly loves being here.But it just feels like propaganda.And I don't feel like I'm going to leavethis place with any better understanding of whatit is that makes people want to come here and givethree years of their life to this army.

    • 19:13

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: Right now if somebody asked me, I wouldn't have a clue,I wouldn't.I'm moving on to Jerusalem, the cityat the heart of the conflict in Israel.It's a fascinating, but divided, place.Palestinians and Israelis both claim it's their capital city.

    • 19:35

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: The different cultures and religions don't seem to mix.East Jerusalem is Arab, and west it is Israeli.It's also had some of the worst violence.Between 2000 and 2011 there were more than 40 attacksby Palestinian militants.

    • 19:59

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: Some of the most important religious sitesin Judaism and Islam are right beside each other here.I'm going to visit the Western Wall for my Jewish sideand the Al-Aqsa Mosque for my Arab Muslim side.I'm not religious.But I'm hoping that such spiritually important placesmight give me a little to taste of the faith people,like my dad, have.

    • 20:20

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: But today things go wrong from the start.Once again, what a surprise, I'm the only onestopped as we all walk through.And somebody from the crew has to sayI'm with you, because otherwise I'mnot allowed through because I have to be checked.What a surprise.I am boiling, and it's hot.And I'm wearing respectable clothes

    • 20:40

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: whilst loads of other people are wearing far less than me.I'm hot and bothered.Then I discovered that the Western Wall is segregated.Look at that.The men's wall.As I approached the Wall I changed my mind.

    • 21:02

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: I just don't want to be here.It just doesn't mean anything to me, and in one respect,it's a bit disrespectful to go.I don't really want to do the whole walking backward thingand have to cover my hair.For most Jews the wall is literally the holiest placethey'll ever go.For me, that's all the more reason

    • 21:23

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: that dividing up so wrong.I moved on to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiestsite in Islam.But once again, I have problems from the start.This time, they won't even let me in.

    • 21:43

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: [What is the name on your passport?][Are you Muslim?]He doesn't accept that I'm Muslim.[Do you read the Quran?][If I have to, yeah][Ya, ya read it.][No.][Can you read it?][I can if I have to, but I'm not going to do it to prove]The first thing they made me do is call my dad.

    • 22:04

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: And he's the most religious person I know.We just tried to go into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.But they won't let me in because they say I'm not Muslim.Is that normal?That's not what being a Muslim is about.It's just fucked.And a disappointing afternoon.The religious stuff is such bullshit.

    • 22:28

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: I know it's not religion itself.And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.But religion is bullshit.Being mixed race sometimes is reallycool because it is like you have entry to more than justone culture.But it also sometimes means you have entry to none.You're all or you're nothing.And today it feels like more nothing.

    • 23:11

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: This is the barrier, built by Israel,which separates itself from the Palestinian region of the WestBank.It's hundreds of miles long.Israelis say the barrier is for security,and prevents suicide bombers getting through.But Palestinians say Israel has used it to take control of landand restrict their freedom.

    • 23:35

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: I've heard the Jewish take on Israel.Now I want to hear from the other side.So I'm crossing the barrier line.But we have to pass through a checkpoint called Kalandia.Checkpoints are controlled by the Israeli army,and there's a lot of security.I feel completely caged in.It's that tight, and there's people already trying

    • 23:56

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: to get through.Just imagine that at rush hour, when everyone'strying to get to work.Trying to get through there.I would not want to face a checkpoint every dayof my life.Even being in there for two minutesI felt a little bit pissed off.If I had to do that, and I was running late for work.And I hadn't had time to do my make up,and I was trying to get everything done, as it is

    • 24:16

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: normally on a Monday morning.I would be in livid.Now we're in the West Bank on the wayto the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

    • 24:39

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: It's crazy, a half hour drive we were in a completely differentworld.No Hebrew written down any more.My brother was here nine years agowhen the Israeli army launched a crackdownon Palestinian violence.It was a dangerous place then.I want to see what it's like today.

    • 25:01

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: Stars and Bucks.It's not at all what I expected.I'm already quite in love with this place.I've really connected with it in a way I haven't yet.I haven't been in the country as of yetand really felt that, oh, I get this.But I really get this.It's really cool.Doesn't feel like Israel at all.

    • 25:33

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: Now that I'm seeing the West Bank as Palestinian,it's strange to think that Itamar's in this area.I'm going back to Itawata, the village justacross the valley from Itamar.The young Palestinians arrested for murdering the Fogel familycame from here.My first thought when I heard that was,what would drive somebody to want to kill a child in a cot?And then, by the sounds of it, not feel any remorse?

    • 25:56

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: That's was I was told, and actuallywanted to find out myself, it that'sactually what the feeling is.I had hoped to meet the families of the arrested men.But when I arrived, they were too upset to talk to me.Instead I meet a villager called Khaled who knew the two men.He tells me what life was like here, since the murders.Did you understand, after what happened,

    • 26:18

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: and why the Israeli soldiers came here and interrogatedvillagers?Because babies were killed a babywas killed in a car in this crime.

    • 26:27

      KHALED: [SPEAKING ARABIC] [Yeah, of course,no one likes killing, whether it's an Arab Palestinianor a Jewish Israeli.]

    • 26:38

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Khaled says since the arrest the villagers'movements have been restricted.

    • 26:42

      KHALED: [SPEAKING ARABIC][The army does not allow anyone to go beyond this line.][From here to there, all this is forbidden.][When you leave, if I try to go to this spot the army will comehere and I'll probably get arrested.]

    • 26:56

      REYA EL-SALAHI: As tragic is whathappened to the Fogel's was, I'm wonderingif it's right that the whole village be punished.I think it's almost irrelevant whether the peopleliving in Itamar have a right to live in this land, or not.I think the real issue is you can't-- it's just not fairto have one village on one side of the hill gated off,

    • 27:20

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: and has running water, and is relatively modern.And on the other side of the hillyou've got dirt tracked roads, and people delivering wateron a donkey.Itamar and Awarta feel like they could be a million miles apart.Back in Ramallah, I'm meeting up with [INAUDIBLE],

    • 27:42

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: a Palestinian student who grew up here.[INAUDIBLE] remembers Israeli soldiers in her homeduring the crackdown nine years ago.

    • 27:50

      GIRL: They didn't go to school for two months,or three months.We were not able to go out of our houses.Israeli soldiers used to take our housesand live in the same house.

    • 28:03

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Zenab protests for Palestinian rightsand has strong political beliefs about the conflict.Do you ever feel sorry for young people,perhaps living in somewhere like Tel Aviv, a young girlyour age who is worried about suicide bombers?Do you sympathize with that?

    • 28:21

      GIRL: No.

    • 28:22

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Why not?

    • 28:23

      GIRL: Because when I see kids when I see babies in Gazagetting killed for doing nothing,when I see kids in jails because of the Israeli occupation,I can't sympathize for those people.

    • 28:43

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Do you find here that people are everfriends with Jewish people?

    • 28:47

      GIRL: Of course.There are many.Jews are not bad.Not all Jews are bad, not all Jews are the same.

    • 28:53

      REYA EL-SALAHI: I wasn't prepared for [INAUDIBLE] ideaof how things could ultimately be resolved.So what would you like to see happen?

    • 29:01

      GIRL: Them going out of our country,and returning to where they came from.

    • 29:06

      REYA EL-SALAHI: But for some of them, they were born here.

    • 29:11

      GIRL: They were born here but they were born here as peoplewho are occupying this country.Their fathers occupied us, killed us.Their grandfathers.They came from all around the world, so they can go back.If the United States loves Israeli people this much,so they can give them shelter.

    • 29:32

      GIRL [continued]: US is very big.It's bigger than here.

    • 29:39

      REYA EL-SALAHI: I can't understand how [INAUDIBLE]could think that way.Saying that Jews need to go to America because Americalikes them is bullshit.It's not going to work.It's unworkable.It's unrealistic.And she also did that thing that, so far,kind of bugged me about a lot of the Israeli Jews that I've met.Talking about Jews as though it's them.

    • 30:01

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: And I understand that it comes with a completely differentexperiences.But it is just as ignorant as the other side of thingsthat I've been listening to.Today is the last Friday of Ramadan,and I'm going back to Kalandia checkpoint at the West Bank

    • 30:21

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: barrier to see a demonstration against Israeli restrictions.From what I've heard, these protests are really passionate,and people are really even violent at times.And so, in a way, I'm quite kind of-- Soundswrong, but kind of excited to see a different kindof demonstration.

    • 30:45

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: This is a very holy day, so Palestiniansare queuing in the hope they'll be allowed to enter Jerusalemto pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque.During Ramadan, the Israelis restrict access to men over 50and women over 45.This is the women's queue.Many of them have been waiting in the hot sun for hours.

    • 31:06

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: When [INAUDIBLE] and I were talking yesterday,my first reaction was, oh, just the other side of the coin.Just as vengeful and hateful as the other side of the argumentI've heard.And I'm seeing it today, and I'm understandingexactly what she means.If I had to go through this just to do somethingthat's a part of my culture, and you have people like Karen

    • 31:27

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: who I met at the IDF base, who talked about this being fun,and loving it so much and protecting her country.She was born in Britain.Her family were born in Britain. [INAUDIBLE]family have lived here for hundreds of years.This is not fair.There's no human exchange here.The way they're dealing with people,they're standing there with guns that

    • 31:48

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: are loaded whilst women and children walk past them.[SPEAKING IN HEBREW]

    • 32:05

      EL-SALAHI:It's time for noon prayers, so these womenare now playing in the road.One prayers finish, the demonstration begins.The mood's completely changed that, within a coupleof minutes, kids are running around,holding stones in their hands.[CHANTING IN ARABIC]

    • 32:27

      EL-SALAHI [continued]: We're going to move completely out of the way.We've been advised to just move out of the crowd.[CHANTING IN ARABIC]Someone's just thrown a stone.

    • 32:53

      EL-SALAHI [continued]: Immediately after the first stoneis thrown from the protesters, Israeli soldiersthrow tear gas into the crowd.It creates complete panic.[COUGHING]

    • 33:15

      EL-SALAHI [continued]: The tear gas is really powerful and works so fast.Skin burning, eyes burning.This is fucked.

    • 33:34

      MAN: Want some help?What happened?No it's fine, thank you.I think I'm just [INAUDIBLE].Think about kids running along being tear gassed.Kids, the same age as my niece, six or seven.

    • 33:57

      MAN [continued]: It's just total chaos here, and it gets worse.Luckily there was no one in the back of the ambulance,and no one was seriously hurt.

    • 34:18

      MAN [continued]: I can't stop thinking about how most of the peoplethere today could face the same thing next week.I'm not easily shocked, but I'm completely hauntedby what I saw.That will never leave me.Dealing with people like they're animals.

    • 34:40

      MAN [continued]: I want an explanation about what I saw at the checkpoint.The Israeli Defense Force agrees to give me an interviewwith the senior press officer.Two stones were thrown, as far as I saw.And the response, immediately, was that a tear gas canisterwas fired into a crowd of people which included me, whichincluded other press, which includedold women, old men, people with children,

    • 35:02

      MAN [continued]: babies, and also soldiers who didn't have tear gas masks on.Why was there no warning?

    • 35:07

      LT COL AVITAL LEIBOVITCH: Our experience shows us that,when we don't use that immediately, thenthe stones increase in their numberand the riot gets out of hand.

    • 35:17

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Why was no warninggiven before they were thrown?

    • 35:20

      LT COL AVITAL LEIBOVITCH: Was therea warning for the protests?I don't think so.

    • 35:23

      REYA EL-SALAHI: I try to explain howit felt on the other side of the barrier.It still, to me, felt as though Iwas going into a different world where, all of a sudden, peoplewith guns were shouting at me.

    • 35:35

      LT COL AVITAL LEIBOVITCH: Well how would you protect yourself?Tell me.I can tell you, as an Israeli.Forget the uniform.I'm the mother of three children.Between the years 2000 and 2006, Iforbade them from going to malls,from using public transportation,or even walking alone in the streets without me.

    • 35:56

      LT COL AVITAL LEIBOVITCH [continued]: Imagine 1000 people, amongst them Arab Israelis, thatwere killed only from suicide bombers in restaurants,in coffee places, in malls, in buses.So you have to understand where we'recoming from with the security situation here.

    • 36:14

      REYA EL-SALAHI: I appreciated the chanceto put my questions to the IDF, but itdidn't change my opinion of what happened at the checkpoint.It's the same pattern in Britain after suicide attacks.I was stopped from moving around because my dad happenedto be listed.And I was told you can't travel to London anymore because therehad been suicide attacks.There might not be any suicide attacks afterwords,

    • 36:35

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: but why should my freedom be curtailed because of that?I'm a human being.I've just as much right to freedom as her and her kids.Walking down these streets in Jerusalem,the thought is never far away that a bomb might go off.Between 2000 and 2006 there were 25 suicide bomb attacks

    • 36:58

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: by Palestinians in Jerusalem.187 people died, and hundreds more were injured.Abigail Sparrow is a Jewish Israeli girlwho amazingly lived through four separate bomb attacksbefore she was 22.Nice to meet you, I'm Reya.How 're you doing?

    • 37:17

      ABIGAIL SPARROW: How're you doing?

    • 37:18

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Abigail moved to Israelfrom the US with her family when she was eightbecause her father wanted to live in the Jewish homeland.Eight years later, Abigail was on her way home from school oneday, when a triple suicide bombing happened just here.

    • 37:33

      ABIGAIL SPARROW: There was this huge blast and it hits me.And I go flying against the wall.There were a few moments of just deafening, deafening silence.Silence of death.And then immediately afterwards, panic.Everyone started running toward the opposite direction,

    • 37:55

      ABIGAIL SPARROW [continued]: and people were screaming and running all over the place.That was the only bombing in which I sawthe body of the suicide bomber.But the interesting thing was that his head just popped off,like a champagne cork.And it was a few meters away, a few good meters away from him.

    • 38:16

      ABIGAIL SPARROW [continued]: And his head was in complete tact.He had gel in his hair, and his--It was in perfect condition.His body was completely fucked up.

    • 38:29

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Five people were killed,and 181 injured in the bombing.Abigail witnessed a second Palestinian suicide bomb attacknear here, but wasn't hurt.A couple of years later, she was caught upin yet another attack.

    • 38:44

      ABIGAIL SPARROW: I didn't realizethat I was injured for a while, because of the adrenaline.I didn't feel pain yet at that point.But I started feeling something drip down my face.And I look down, and I see blood all over my clothes.And that's when I realized that I was injured.Some people tell me you're lucky,god is looking out for you.But what kind of god would subject me

    • 39:05

      ABIGAIL SPARROW [continued]: to this in the first place?

    • 39:08

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Abigail lost her job after that attack.She now works as a trainer for rescue dogs like Jimmy.Although the attacks deeply affected her,I'm amazed at the outlook she now has on them.

    • 39:19

      ABIGAIL SPARROW: People just wantto live their lives, at the end of the day.And a lot of the Palestinians havebeen robbed of lot of their basic freedoms and rights.Not only by the Israelis, by the way.Also by their own government.But I can understand where they're coming from.

    • 39:41

      ABIGAIL SPARROW [continued]: I can understand their anger.

    • 39:44

      REYA EL-SALAHI: That's amazing.That sense of having compassion is somethingthat I've been looking for since coming here.And one of the things that I've experience since being hereis the wall that was set up.And I had a lot of people say that Israel is a saferplace because of that wall.

    • 40:01

      ABIGAIL SPARROW: It is, and that is a fact.And I have mixed feelings about the wall.But the effectiveness of the wallhas proven itself over the years.

    • 40:12

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Meeting Abigail has given mea new understanding of the Israeli side of the conflict.I think she's a really amazing person.Because I don't know, hand on heart,if I could say, if the same thing had happened to me,if I would be so progressive in my thoughts.And not fall into that trap of blaming a group of people

    • 40:34

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: where, in the country like this, seemslike it's the easiest thing to do when anything goes wrong.Despite the current tensions, we'vebeen given the OK by our securityadvisors to go to Gaza, one of the most dangerous placesin the Middle East.I'll get to see life there and speak to a young Hamas

    • 40:55

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: activist.There's a real risk of being attacked or kidnappedby Islamist extremists, so we onlyhave a window of a few hours.The more I've spoke to people, the moreI realize that, to really understandthis place I have to visit here.So no second thoughts at all.

    • 41:16

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: But I am feeling a little bit panicky.Gaza is a tiny Palestinian area on the southern tip of Israel.Over a million Palestinians live there.It's completely fenced in, and Israel tightlyrestricts access for both people and supplies.

    • 41:38

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: But inside Gaza, the militant Islamic group Hamasare in control.America, Europe and Israel considerHamas to be terrorists.By closing off Gaza, Israel wantsto isolate Hamas and stop rocket attacks on Israeli towns.We're just about to arrive at the border.

    • 41:59

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: So we have to get out of the car and walkacross the crossing point.We can't drive through.And our Israeli producer can't come with usbecause Israelis aren't allowed across this border.So It's just us and the film crew walking through.We're not allowed to film inside the checkpoint.

    • 42:25

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: Just come through the border into Gazaand it is literally like a rat run, 10 minutewalk through a caged walkway.We have to travel with the local BBCproducer in a bulletproof car at all times, for security.Already just through driving into Gaza

    • 42:46

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: for less than five minutes I can alreadysee such a stark difference to everythingI've experienced since being here.Graffiti on every single wall we pass by.We're heading for Jabalia refugee camp.It's a stronghold of Hamas.

    • 43:08

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: It's hard to believe this is still part of Israel.But the person I was supposed to meethas been arrested this morning.I still want to explore and try to speak to someone else.Lots of people out on the streets, as well.Lots of young people in the streetas well, by the looks of it.There are not enough schools or teachers here,

    • 43:29

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: so children can only attend school in shifts.As soon as we get out of the car in Jabalia,we have an audience.

    • 43:38

      CHILDREN: Hello!

    • 43:46

      CHILD: Mohammad.

    • 43:47

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Mohammad!Hello Mohammad!That's one way to get the kids to go.[SPEAKING IN ARABIC]We get an invitation this little boy to visit his home.It's not part of our plan, but we'regoing to take a chance that it's safe.

    • 44:15

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: Such small spaces.Hello!Hello, nice to meet you.

    • 44:19

      WOMAN: Nice to see you.How are you?

    • 44:23

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Very well, how are you?

    • 44:25

      IMAN: My name is Iman.

    • 44:27

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Reya.

    • 44:28

      IMAN: Lovely to meet you.Where are you from?

    • 44:30

      REYA EL-SALAHI: England.

    • 44:31

      WOMAN: You live?

    • 44:32

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Yes.

    • 44:34

      IMAN: Well, come.This is my home.

    • 44:36

      REYA EL-SALAHI: This is Iman.She was born in Jabalia and shares this housewith seven other members of her family.I can't believe eight people live here.

    • 45:04

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: Hello.Hello!

    • 45:06

      IMAN: Are you speaking English with him?

    • 45:08

      REYA EL-SALAHI: No, his English is good!My Arabic is [NON-ENGLISH].Iman tells me one of her brotherswas killed by the Israeli army.He's now regarded as a martyr.Iman describes how the children areaffected by the violence they've grown up with.

    • 45:21

      IMAN: Play with the others-- gun.Israeli, Palestinian.[When he plays with other, it's "gun", Israeli, Palestinian.]

    • 45:25

      REYA EL-SALAHI: They play games of beingan Israeli and a Palestinian.Can you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up?[SPEAKING ARABIC][Fighter.]

    • 45:34

      IMAN: You see?Our dream is live in peace with the Israelisand with the others.But not like this life.

    • 45:43

      REYA EL-SALAHI: Our local produceris worried we've been in one place for too long,so we have to leave.I asked a 12-year-old kid, what you wantto be what when you grow up.He said, a fighter.And she's talking about how, when he sleeps at nighthe dreams about the Israelis breaking into his houseand trying to kill him.And he's 12, and he looked about eight.

    • 46:05

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: He was tiny.Despite the terrible poverty, parts of Gazaare still much livelier and busier than I expected.But everywhere I look there are Hamas flags and graffiti.You can see just how strong the political opinion is here.I'd still like to talk to young people about politics.A young guy called Karim approaches us.

    • 46:25

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: He's a Hamas supporter, and I asked himhow he feels about Israel.Young Israelis I've spoken to say that this is their countryand they have a right to live here.What you think about that?

    • 46:36

      KARIM: They don't have any rights to be here.By our hands, by warm hands, and good, real friendsfrom Arab countries, and foreign countries.If they want to help us to get these people outfrom this country, we will get our peace.Without anything else, we will never live the lifethat we want to live.

    • 46:58

      REYA EL-SALAHI: We're running out of time in Gaza.We have to get back before the checkpoint closes.If I had to live in this kind of condition,if I had to live under these rules, I wouldn't be saying,I want peace and I want us all to hold hands and skip arounda campfire.I'd be a 12-year-old saying that whenI grow I want to be a fighter.

    • 47:19

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: I do understand why, for Israel, this is a real threat.This place is their enemy on their doorstep.And I don't know what the answer is.But this is not it.Making over a million people live in a open prison is notthe answer.

    • 47:41

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: I'm coming to the end of my time in Israeland feel like this experience has reallyopened my eyes to the conflict that runs rightin the heart of my family.It's such a complicated place, and itseems everyone has an opinion about what should be done.

    • 48:02

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: Being both Jewish and Muslim reallyhighlighted some of the problems and inequalities in the countryto me.There's absolutely no integration in this country.And particularly coming from Britainwhere, I think that despite all the problemswe've got, when it comes to integrationwe're pretty good as a country.

    • 48:25

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: But this thing of living completely separate liveswithin one society, and everyone is so separated,just isn't going to end up well.Hello.Hey!Puppy.How are you doing?

    • 48:47

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: It's strange to be home, and look backat everything I experienced and how it's changed me.A little side of me thought, before going out to Israel,that I would go there and I would figure outthe answers to the conflict.And I'd be able to save the world, and fly the flag.

    • 49:07

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: And the whole country would be renamed Reyasland.And that's not going to happen.The more time I spent there, the more difficultand complex and complicated I realize that this issue is.But that's because that it's people.I don't know whether there is a simple answer.But I definitely feel like having the experience I've had

    • 49:28

      REYA EL-SALAHI [continued]: has opened my eyes to experience thingsthrough different peoples' perspectives.And to walk a day in other people's shoes.And that's where, if anywhere, the conflictis going to come to begin to be resolved.Maybe I could save the Middle East, yeah.Reyasland can be the newest nation to be born.Yeah.

Mixed Up in the Middle East

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Abstract

Reya El-Salahi, daughter of an Arab Muslim and American Jew, travels to the Middle East to explore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Because of her mixed heritage, El-Salahi is able to access and relate to both sides of the conflict. El-Salahi travels to Israeli and Palestinian lands and explores the prejudice that she sees in each.

Mixed Up in the Middle East

Reya El-Salahi, daughter of an Arab Muslim and American Jew, travels to the Middle East to explore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Because of her mixed heritage, El-Salahi is able to access and relate to both sides of the conflict. El-Salahi travels to Israeli and Palestinian lands and explores the prejudice that she sees in each.

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