Two Families

Same City, But Different Viewpoints

They are two Jerusalem families. They live just across town from each other. But they are a world apart. Dan Rather reports.

Haim is an archaeologist and Rachel, a lawyer. They are Israelis trying to raise their three children in a country whose war with the Palestinians has come home to their doorstep.

Yussef, an economics professor, and Dina, a nurse, are Palestinians trying to raise their three children in the middle of what they view as an Israeli occupation.

Says Rachel: “My day-to-day work is worrying about, worrying about the children, worrying about going, stepping out of the house. Getting on a bus.”

The rash of deadly suicide bombings has shaken Israelis to the core.

Haim admits that as insidious as they are, the suicide bombings have been a very effective weapon for the Palestinians.

Yussef says his life has changed tremendously: “Upside down, almost. I can't go to work, the kids haven't been able to go to school. Life has almost come to a standstill.”

But Yussef says that his family is lucky, compared to Palestinians living and dying in the West Bank, under this new Israeli occupation. “Water cut off, electricity cut off for maybe hours at a time, or days at a time. Seeing wounded people in the streets, bleeding to death, dying eventually, not having ambulances allowed to come in to save them.”

This most recent outbreak of violence has disrupted the lives of both of these families, Arab and Israeli, and darkened the city they share.

Yuval is 17, and his formerly quiet neighborhood has become an armed camp. “In every restaurant right now are guards; this is totally new since the last bombings, maybe a couple of weeks. They have guards everywhere right now,” says Yuval.

His younger brother Tal sees something else that is new. “The policeman going into the bus, checking everyone and just go off,” says Tal, who is 12. He rides city buses home from school, and lately he watches out for anything suspicious.

If someone gets on his bus and it's not a cold day and he has on an overcoat, is Tal likely to get off the bus? “Well, first I'll see your face, I'll see how you behave, if you're nervous or something. Then if you look suspicious, I will take the next bus.”

Across town in Arab East Jerusalem, and just down the hill from Yussef and Dina's house, European and even some Israeli demonstrators have come to protest this new Israeli army checkpoint.

It is next to Yussef and Dina’s house. The Israeli government says the checkpoints are needed for security. Palestinians like Dina say they are just part of a campaign of harassment.

“It’s hassle, it’s hassle,” says Dina. “So they don't care whether you are a Jerusalemite, you're paying Jerusalem taxes, you live here, you were born here…. There is a checkpoint; it's supposed to hassle everybody.” The demonstration seems to be going on smoothly and then all hell breaks loose. It seems the Israeli army is in no mood for peace protests.

Yussef, Dina and the kids are home when the demonstration is tear gassed. Dina worries that her mother is near the demonstration. After a minute of panic, Dina's mother arrives home.

You might think that in this climate, people would just leave the country. But Rachel says her family will stay in Israel. “It's not the time to go out and leave, you have to stay here and be stronger and go through this and try to make the situation better,” she says.

Dina says her family will stay as well, in Palestinian Jerusalem. “We've struggled a lot to stay living in Jerusalem. We've suffered a lot to stay living in Jerusalem. Haim Goldfuss an Israeli father says to achieve peace, the Palestinians must stop the terrorism.

Yussef says to achieve peace, his people must have independence.

Both fathers know if there isn't peace, their sons may one day face each other in war.

Omar, Haim’s son, says that he can see himself fighting in the Israeli army? “If it goes to extremes, I mean if they d,o like, commit this crime again and again and keep on committing against my people, I see no, no problem in going and fighting them."

Yuval is asked if he could kill a Palestinian: “If I would be attacked, I would defend myself. I wouldn't just sit down and let him kill me.”
  • David Kohn

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