The view from Jerusalem

Muslims, Jews and Christians share their thoughts on the 60-year-old conflict.

    Al Jazeera's Linda Haddad took to the streets of Jerusalem and visited Bethlehem's Aida refugee camp to ask Arabs, Jews and Christians for their thoughts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is what they had to say....

    Abdullah Hamad Oda, Jerusalem, restaurant owner

    What used to be a five minute journey to work
    now takes Abdullah 45 minutes

    Peace is never going to happen because the Jews don't know peace. [The Israelis] would not build this wall in front of my restaurant if they wanted peace with me. [The Israelis] just want to take our land and what am I supposed to do?

    The Arab traitors who claim to be our leaders have not done anything for [the Palestinians]. How can we do anything? Nothing comes out of our hands. All of the Arab leaders are traitors ... we need a leader like Salahuddin so he can free us from the Israeli occupation.

    Now we are just waiting for God to do what he can do and no one else. We can't depend on anyone. The Palestinians are trapped and we can't do a thing.

    They put up this [wall] to take our land because it is an inconvenience to us. I live in Jerusalem and my restaurant is [in Ram]. It used to take me five minutes to drive to my work everyday before this wall was put up. Now it takes me 45 minutes, if I'm lucky. This is not peace, I am sorry, it is just not peace.

    Uri Givoni, Modiin, tour guide

    Uri believes the Palestinian refugees of 1948
    made a mistake by leaving their homes

    I generally believe that the past should stay in the past.

    Many people make mistakes in their lives and they think it is reversible and it is not - it is not reversible on a personal level, national level or a political level.

    Leaders and families made a colossal mistake by leaving their homes in 1948. They believed what the radio stations were saying - the propaganda of the Palestinian radio stations telling the Arabs in this region to leave their homes.

    [Palestinian refugees of 1948] made a colossal mistake and that's it.

    Asher Biton, Jerusalem, candy shop owner

    Asher says Jews and Palestinians can
    live together

    All what is going on here is from the big heads and they complicate things.

    If I need to go to the old city I should be able to go. [Arabs] come to [Mahaney Yahude market] and I don't mind it.

    You see, we all live among each other and I don't mind it. It is possible because it is happening as anyone can see. Jews and Palestinians can all live together. This conflict is all political.

    One day, I really hope we can have peace - we need it. 

    Drew (withheld his last name), Arizona, student

    Drew believes integration is the key to
    understanding between Jews and Palestinians

    I am an American Jew and I came to Jerusalem on a visit through the Birthright group.

    I think the best chances for peace in this region is for the Israelis and Palestinians to live more among each other.

    They need to integrate and then maybe they can understand one another, instead of them living in separate areas. 

    Also, a lot of what [Israelis and Palestinians] believe is not of their own understanding or experience. They tend to believe what other people have been telling them all the time.

    They need to live among each other and integrate and then they will realise they have a lot more in common.

    Joseph and Betty Lukinsky, American Jews, Jerusalem, retired professor and a volunteer

    Betty says the Palestinians should have a state
    but must recognise Israel's right to exist

    Joseph: If the Palestinian people stop terrorising Israelis, then Israel will stop the occupation and then we can all have peace.

    The Arabs had many chances to create a Palestinian state.

    Abu Ibil said: "The Arabs never loose an opportunity to loose an opportunity." You know they lost out on the Arab partition plan - they lost it by refusing it - and then [the Arabs] attack Israel and Israel has won each war with the Arabs.

    The first thing the Palestinians need to stop doing is firing the rockets into Israel, then they need to recognise Israel - then there might be a chance for peace.

    Betty: Oh the Palestinians should really have a state of their own. I really wish the best for both sides but the Palestinians just need to recognise Israel's right to exist.

    They should become our partners. It is the people with power on the Palestinian side that do not care about their own people.

    They should put their money into infrastructures, proper housing and water, better schools, things like that.

    We really do get along with the Palestinians here, and we hope the best for them. The Arabs at this bakery I go to are the most sweetest men.

    The man who fixes things in our home is a Palestinian and we have become just dear friends.

    We hope we can see peace in our lifetime.

    Tony Sabella, Jerusalem, tour guide

    Palestinian refugees have the absolute right to return to the 1948 borders.

    This shouldn't be an odd thing to people. Every human being has a born right to return to their homeland, where they were born. 

    Never ever, no past should be forgotten. No one can tell any Palestinian they do not have a right to their homeland.

    Peter Sara, Jerusalem, waiter

    Peter says the situation is one of
    war not occupation

    Never forever! You want to know why? I want your whole hand, and you give me a few fingers from your hand.

    Can't be peace, but we must live all together all the time - no solution.

    Maybe in the year 3000 you might see peace.

    This is not an occupation - this is a war! King Hussein made a big mistake - he gave the land to the Jews.

    Yasser Arafat went and came like a yo-yo - he did nothing!

    The political place is dirty. So you see, this is a war and we are never going to have peace. No solution.

    Nasser Abu Sbeih, Jerusalem, restaurant owner

     Nasser does not believe Palestinian refugees
    will ever be allowed to return

    The Palestinian refugees of 1948 never will be back to Palestine. Israel won't let them be back.

    There is room for all of the refugees but Israel says there is no room. We would like for them to be allowed back to their homes. They are our families - we want to be with our families.

    There will be more and more Jews in this land. The Israeli government bring people from Russia, Poland, Ethiopia and promise them a home, a job if they convert.

    If Israel allowed the Palestinian refugees to come back, that would mean by 2050, if we are all allowed to vote, the president of Israel will end up being an Arab and Israel today does not want that.

    If Israel is a democracy and they let everyone vote, Israel will become an Arab country, not a Jewish one. And this is why Israel will never let the refugees return.

    Hamdi Jwalis, Jerusalem, gift and souvenir shop owner

     Hamdi says there is room for a
    two-state solution

    It is a simple answer - if you change all of the leaders in the Arab world, then we may have peace with Israel.

    What is taken by force from you should be taken back by force.

    If [the Palestinians] stay the way we are now we will be all kicked out of our homes very soon.

    The Jews bring in other Jewish immigrants and take our land. Where are we going to go?

    There is room for a two-state solution. Everyone fairly takes their parts of land and is treated fairly.

    When I walk out of my store and a young soldier asks for my Israeli identification and does not treat me like a citizen, then there is something wrong. Treat me like a citizen - all they want to do is give [Palestinians] a hard time when we walk outside.

    Ezedadin Iz Eddin Abdel Men'em El-Shaikh Qasem, Jerusalem, spice shop owner

    Ezedadin asks how he

    can have peace with the
    people who took his home from him

    No, no. [Peace] is forbidden with the Jews and you want to know why? It has nothing to do with religion. They came here to my home where I am living, and they take it. How can I have peace with them when they have taken my home away from me?

    I am a refugee from Lid. If I took [George Bush's] home what would the US do? What would the American people do?

    Everyone is hungry for their land. Palestinian refugees' land is being farmed by Jews and they make a lot of money from it, and what do the refugees get from their land being farmed? Nothing - we are hungry.

    If the Americans want us to live in peace with the Jews, why don't they try giving their land to them first? We had nothing to do with the Jews - they were never our enemy - we were not responsible for the Holocaust.

    I have all my papers to my home still in Lid and I can prove which home is mine but the Jews have it now.

    If I want to send money to my family in Gaza, they question me. We have no rights.

    Israel? What is Israel? It is a name of a prophet, not a land. This is bad.

    I do not care what Bush says, this is our land.

    I live in Bethany and it takes me two hours to get to Jerusalem so I can work in my spice shop. You know why it takes me that long? Because of the wall the Jews built and the check points.

    My mom is 85 years old and in a wheel chair. At the check points they make me take her out of her wheel chair so they can scan her through a machine. I will take you to the check point and show you this machine - is this peace?
    Teresa Harris, Atlanta, Georgia US, insurance claims adjuster

    There is only one solution to achieving peace and that is Jesus Christ, the prince pf peace.

    Until Jesus comes, there will not be peace. There will not be real and lasting peace.

    Jesus died for the Jews, the Gentiles, and for the Muslims. He died for the sins of this world.

    This hatred between the two here is coming from demonic powers and not from Jesus. He will bring peace.

    Before he returns there will be a big revival and everyone will recognise in the Messiah.

    Maysa (withheld her family name), Jerusalem, social worker

    If the Israelis and Palestinians want peace for sure then peace will happen.

    With everything going the way it is now - like in Gaza. I mean, Israel won't even recognise us.

    They don't even see a Palestinian. They need to recognise us first. Israel needs to see me - why can't they see me? Do I not exist?

    When I exist in their eyes, then we can all live in peace.

    Hagop Antreassian, Jerusalem, ceramic and pottery shop owner

     Hagop says the conflict is a global issue with
    Jerusalem at its centre

    Justice - with justice will come peace.

    We have to educate for peace, justice and co-existence, educate the now generation and the unborn child.

    There is lots of hatred and lots of blood. But when you educate the masses, your work on policy becomes easy.

    The way we educate our children must change. Peace just doesn't come from here. It's not just an Israeli Palestinian issue - it's a global one.

    They have to solve the Jerusalem issue - the centre of the conflict. We have peace talks on everything except Jerusalem. And who ever claimed Jerusalem never got it. Jerusalem has always exchanged hands because it never belongs to any one person. It is forbidden to belong to a nation. It belongs to humankind.

    I really don't think I will see peace in my lifetime.

    Ghada Azzeh, Aida refugee camp, volunteer at the women's centre in Aida refugee camp

     Ghada says both Palestinians and Israelis
    must seek peace for the sake of their children

    If there was no government for both sides, we might be able to make peace between us. The politicians are the ones who complicate things.

    You know, sometimes, we think there will never be peace, but we have to believe in peace if we want our children to live life to the fullest.

    And if I want this for my children, for the Palestinian children, then I must want it too for the Israeli children too - all have to think like this.

    Palestinians and the Jews must think for each other and not just for themselves to achieve peace.

    But it is the governments and people who have power who don't think this way.

    Michael Newman, Jerusalem, business consultant

    Michael says the Palestinian leadership needs
    to stop missile attacks on Israel from Gaza

    From the Palestinian side, we need leadership to sit down, plan, organise and build something. Palestinian leadership need to build infrastructures for their people: better schools, hospitals, roads.

    The Palestinians also need to stop the missiles attacks coming out of Gaza, control their fanatics, and again, build something for the betterment of their people.

    On the Israeli side, we are going to honour to the letter the issue of settlements.

    The success of Zionism was one nation, one army, not a bunch of factions. So you see, Palestinians should stop being victims and should live up to their obligations of peace negotiations.

    Cary Jarrett, Dallas, Texas, retired

    Cary believes there will only be peace when
    everyone accepts that the land belongs to Jews

    From a biblical perspective, this land belongs to the Jews.

    Like it says in the good book, from the Euphrates to the Nile, this land belongs to the Jews.

    And only when everyone accepts these words will there be peace - lasting peace in Israel.

    As a Christian Zionist, I am here to help the Jewish needy and to do my part in making sure this land belongs to the promised people, our friends, the Jews.

    Diana Ayad, Aida refugee camp, stay at home mother

    Diana talks about the strains of everyday life
    for Palestinians in Aida refugee camp

    Let me tell you about the complications and the stress the Israelis put us through every day, and then someone can tell me if we have a chance for peace.

    Look at this wall the Jews built, trapping us like we are not human at all. Our children used to run to the other side and play. With this wall there is no room for children to run around freely and play like kids.

    My cousin lives on the other side of this wall and has some medical problems - she needed to do a surgery. We wanted to accompany her to hospital before she did her surgery to wish her well - the Israelis would not let us leave to the other side - they never approved our permits.

    One of my daughters graduated college, she had a perfect score. She can't find a job in this town, and she's not allowed to leave it so she can't find a job outside.

    The Israelis will turn the water off on us throughout the weeks. Water is life. Can you live without water? Days go by without water and we have to preserve the little we have for drinking and cooking. So there are days where we can't even shower.

    But we have it easy on this side - look at what is happening to our brothers and sisters in Gaza?

    You think there will be peace anytime soon? I don't think so.


    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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