The Road From Gaza
A snapshot of editorials from around the world on what comes next after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
David Michaelis (left) is a veteran producer for Israeli television. He moved to the United States in 2000 to co-found Link TV, where he is director of current affairs. Jamal Dajani (right) is director of Middle Eastern programming at Link TV, where he produces the Peabody Award-winning daily newscast Mosaic: World News From the Middle East.
There is an old, deeply cynical joke about the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A scorpion wants to cross the Jordan River, but can't swim. He asks a frog if he can hitch a ride on his back. "Of course not," replies the frog. "You might sting me."
"Why would I do that?" the scorpion counters. "If I hurt you, I would drown. It would be irrational." The frog considers the scorpion's logic and agrees. Halfway across the water, the scorpion suddenly seizes the frog in its pincers and injects his deadly venom. The stunned, bewildered frog asks, "Why did you sting me? Now we will both die." With his last breath the scorpion says, "I couldn't help it. That's the Middle East for you."
Not everyone in the Middle East is that pessimistic. Certainly some believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is never-ending, but others keep seeking pragmatic solutions. Despite decades of violence, betrayals and false hopes, change does happen, sometimes with unexpected suddenness.
After almost 40 years of occupation, nearly 9,000 Jewish settlers were removed from Gaza by the Israeli army last week -- efficiently, quickly and with less resistance than many predicted. It was a historic withdrawal, and after all the anguish and threats, it took less than six days.
This week on Rough Cut we present the story of two men who are committed to finding a peaceful settlement to the dilemmas of the Middle East. Occupied Minds is the personal odyssey of two journalists -- Jamal Dajani, a Palestinian American, and David Michaelis, an Israeli citizen -- who travel together to Jerusalem, where they were both born, "to face the hard realities of our shared land." Their journey is a road trip across a grim and divided landscape, but it is leavened by gallows humor and a heartfelt desire to find solutions.
"I'm the optimist of the two of us," Dajani declares in the video. "I believe that rather than creating two separate states, one Israeli and one Palestinian, we should have a one-state solution, where everyone shares in the same land and has equal rights. I know that I am in the minority with this idea."
Michaelis is less sanguine about the prospects for a shared country, arguing that a two-state settlement is more realistic. A veteran Israeli television news producer, Michaelis came to San Francisco five years ago to help establish Link TV, a satellite network dedicated to global news coverage and specializing in the Middle East. "After some time of working here with Jamal, I said definitely Jews and Arabs can coexist in California," says the 59-year-old Michaelis. But Jerusalem is not the Bay Area. "In San Francisco, you only have to choose what kind of latte you want to have in the mornings."
What you will see here is a 20-minute excerpt of their hour-long documentary, Occupied Minds, released this summer. The full-length film is available on DVD from Link TV, which this year won a Peabody Award -- one of broadcasting's highest honors -- for its signature program, Mosaic, a daily digest of news from Middle East broadcasters produced by Dajani.
Don't expect any easy answers here, but at least Dajani and Michaelis are asking the hard questions -- together.