homethe negotiationsparallel realitiestimelinediscussion
photo of sharon at the temple mountphoto of celebrating palestinansphoto of a child making a peace signJoin the Discussion: How bleak is the future? Can the peace process be restarted? What will it take?


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for your presentation on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. A statement by Mr. Erekat stands out for its importance. He said that Jewish settlers moving into Palestinian lands is just as offensive and infuriating to Palestinians, as suicide bombers are to Israelis. Why does Israel keep doing this?

Israel has control over settlement, whereas I don't believe Arafat has control over the terrorists. As an American, I wish our country would pull back aid to Israel until the Israelis quit establishing new settlements. I fear that the United States is being pulled into a global conflict on the behalf of a country that sends people like Jonathan Pollard to spy on us while holding out their hand for more help.

pueblo, colorado


Dear FRONTLINE,

I though the program you aired was a very thoughtout and interesting peek at what is happening in the Middle East. We can pick at the words used by people as others have but I was somewhat disappointed by the lack of emphasis on the fact that the Palestinians people and the Palestinian leadership are under an illegal military occupation.

Not only is the occupation of 35 years internationally illegal but also the confiscation of land by the Jewish settlements. The Palestinians are fighting for their God-given rights to walk outside and not be told what to do by an Israeli soldier. Many people say that it is simply "spoils of war". Yet the Palestinains are not asking for their entire home back but that this illegal occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to be terminated. While Israel controls most of the land, water, electricity, mailing, phone lines, and food, this leaves no power to the Palestinian leadership. It is ethically immoral to do this to a people and expect them to be "friendly" after 35 years of inhumane torture. Concerning Arafat and his power, it is hypocritical to continuously call upon Arafat to "do something" about the suicide bombers when Israel constantly bombs his police departments, the very force which works to prevent such attacks.

Harb Harb
ramallah, palestine


Dear FRONTLINE,

I was mesmerized by last night's airing. You probed with great depth and clarity the elements of the political stalemate vis a vis the Palestinian issue. That was well done. There is, however, something missing.

How are the Palestinians going to function as a nation once the creation phase has been accomplished? As far as I know no singular nation has ever succeeded as a going concern when it has been broken up geographically like a supposed Palestinian state would be what with Gaza on one side and the West Bank on the other. Has anybody woken up and realized that Palestine may have to become more than one state?

Think about it. There isn't any reason in this whole squabble why Gaza can't declare itself an independent state right now. Well, yes there is, Gaza needs jobs. Gaza needs an economy suggestive of an integrated state, a viable state. Gaza needs the Arab world to lend and grant it the monies necessary to build the kind of seaport that can both ship in the raw materials needed for manufacturing and ship out the finished product. It needs a merchantile class of business to handle the marketing of such goods. It needs enough agriculture (just enough) to feed itself for, say, a years time. It needs basically to set its labor to work upon the mission of being a going concern. It doesn't need to follow the model of sending its labor into Israel every day in order to make pennies. In the long run this stifles both Gaza's hope for a viable future and Israeli innovation.

The model for the future of Palestine is right under everybody's noses. That model lies somewhere in the inner workings of a promising Gaza strip. The model lies on the map that was shown for only a few seconds last night, a map which showed three or so seemingly isolated land locked Gaza like areas. Is anybody looking?

Micah Eaton
eagle, co


Dear FRONTLINE,

I love your work, I thank the Gods for 'Frontline,' and I find much good in this program, the first place in the mainstream American media where I have seen *any* criticism of Israel even implied. I did find it surprising and disappointing that the only ëclosing argumentsí about why we are where we are today were from American and Israeli participants, who largely lay the corpses at Arafat's door.

But, I thought, there was another, truly major, mistake that makes the program much less useful than it should have been.

We heard from one of the Palestinian negotiators that new West Bank settlements are to the Palestinians exactly as suicide bombings are to the Israelis. We may not agree with this analogy, but we have it from their own lips that this *is* their perception.

Virtually every single suicide bombing was graphically detailed in the documentary, yet the ongoing development of settlements was mentioned only two, maybe three times. Thus the major part of the context for the suicide bombings is given such short shrift that itís essentially invisible to anyone who doesnít *know already* how important the cessation of new settlement is to the Palestinians.

I have read other reportage indicating that at least some new settlement has taken place on land where Palestinian homes recently stood, until they were bulldozed by the Israelis because they allegedly sheltered terrorists. Given your otherwise excellent use of archival video footage, how is it that we saw none of this? Okay, obviously, you only had two hours; but it seems to me a few minor details (the sidebar about the opening of the tunnel comes to mind) should have been sacrificed, in order to give such a crucial piece of context its appropriate weight.

At the very least, how hard would it have been to insert a line of narration here and there, tracing the ongoing development of new settlements, in the way that each bombing was detailed? It would have made Palestinian rage more understandableóindeed perhaps *as* understandable as the clearly justifiable rage of the Israelis.

As it is, your largely excellent program ends up feeding the prevailing stereotype that itís all Arafatís fault and that itís only the Palestinians who are insane and untrustworthy, even as it largely glosses over a highly questionable Israeli policy that the Palestinians keep telling us is in large part fueling the conflict.

Lancaster, PA

Thomas Milligan
lancaster, pa


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for a very thorough program. Unfortunately, in what appeared to me to be a strained effort to "be balanced," you missed some fundamental truths:

1) The peace process a la Oslo and Camp David has now been shown to be illusory given the inability or unwillingness of Arafat and the Palestinian leadership to reign in Hamas et al. Who cares if a peace agreement would have been signed if massive terrorism continues. Hamas rejects the idea of an Israeli state and the Palestinians have not yet been able to divest themselves of terrorism.

2) You don't explain the demonstrated deceit of the Palestinian leadership which explains why the Israelis do not trust them. Saeb Erakat is given more airtime in your show than anyone else and is portrayed as credible - a good guy in the quest for peace. Yet, you fail to mention that he led the baldface lie about a "Jenin massacre". He and the Palestinian leadership claimed to the world and the U.N. that 600 Palestinians were killed when in fact only 54 were killed, all of 8 of whom were armed (23 Israeli soldiers also died). I was recently told that the Palestinians now admit that only 56 were killed. How can the Israelis take him and Arafat seriously given such lies. Trust is key.

I have other beefs with your program but I'll give others a chance. Thanks again for showing appropriate attention to the subject.

Adam Ennis
pittsburgh, pa


Dear FRONTLINE,

I thoroughly enjoyed watching every minute of this program. Thank you to all whose efforts made this possible. My heart aches for all on each side of the conflict. I hope and pray for peace to arrive so I can enjoy both the land of my Father (Israel) and the Land of my Mother (Lebanon).

miami, florida


Dear FRONTLINE,

It is rather refreshing to see some unbiased projection of Mid-East conflict, while the everyday media, FOX, CNN, NBC, spews regular jingoism, to cater to the needs of mass hysteria.

Your program did an excellent job at showing the mistakes that both sides have made. It is indeed ironic to see how people still conveniently try to ignore the truth and blame the other side.

However one thing that was missing in you program was history of mid-east dating back to 1880 and the "funny logic" of British colonialism. British legacy still-hunts many in India/Pakistan and many other previously colonized nations.

I think Frontline should do another documentary on pre-1948 era and the politics of creation of Israel in Middle East.

I feel the Middle East conflict reflects how someone who with forcefully occupy someone elseís home and is now negotiating over the servant quarters.

S B
auburn , mi


Dear FRONTLINE,

Last night's episode (Thu 6/28/2002) makes it painfully clear that it's time for a change of leadership on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

I'm surprised and somewhat confused about why our current President is demanding a change on one side only. The Israelis have delivered nothing but broken promises since the days of Sharon/Perez. Perhaps it's time to explain to the Israelis that they need to stick to their promises instead of sticking to their guns. I'm disgusted that every time I turn on the tv I see images of American made weapons of war being used to attack Palestinians. It is clear why the Palestinian people have no hope. The desire for self preservation is chief among human motivations. The fact the Palestinians are killing themselves and innocent Israelis is clear evidence that their is a need for change on both sides.

John Powell
port arthur, texas


Dear FRONTLINE,

Ok, here's a different spin to this. The claim to land argued by the Jews based on history and religious scriptures is akin to American Indians rising up tomorrow to lay claim to all of the United States based on history showing them as the original inhabitants of this beautiful land.

Jose Umana
pinecrest, fl


Dear FRONTLINE,

How ridiculous! Benjamin Netanyahu agrees to open a tunnel in Jerusalem, and Bang! the Palestinian immediately unleash a violent demonstration. Ariel Sharon visits the Temple Mount and provokes the same response. Ehud Barak puts his head in hands during a dinner, and the whole peace process grinds to a halt.

While between 1997-1999, radical Palestinians were unsuccesfully attempting to sabotage the peace process with suicide bombers, it seems that the smallest slight by Israelis was enough to provoke the Palestinians and ignite the whole region.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator said in your brilliant documentary that the Israelis want an end of conflict and that that is the Palestinian trump card; Well, it seems that when there was disagreement, the Palestinians used that card, and the region is paying the price still.

ny, ny


Dear FRONTLINE,

Your program was very misleading as its Israeli producers tried to stay neutral, but couldnít. Your program failed miserably in covering the Palestinian victims of Israeli terror (who, by the way, greatly outnumber the Israeli victims) with same enormity that the Israeli victims were covered.

Your program also failed to inform the viewers about Jonathan Pollard, who provided Israeli intelligence with names of important American agents inside the former Soviet Union and of favorite US targets in case of a nuclear war. The Israelis passed on the information to the Russians in exchange for allowing some Russian Jews to immigrate to Israel. A number of key CIA agents were executed and the KGB gained access to top-secret US codes as a result of Pollard's spying, which is characterized as the worst security disaster in US history.

I hope that Americans will wake up and know who their real friends are. I also hope that our government will one day be made up of politicians who will put America first, not Israel.

Tony Abutayeh
college park, md


Dear FRONTLINE,

I deeply appreciate you telling the american public the real truth on how the peace process was/came to be. I encourage you to do more programs such as this one. Thanks again.

imad amrou
sylvania, ohio


Dear FRONTLINE,

Your "Shattered Dreams of Peace" was phenomenal. I just completed a class on middle eastern politics and found that it truly enhanced everything I had just learned.

Personally, if the US would take a more neutral stance, if Arafat would make a greater effort to curtail terrorism, and Israel would replace Sharon there might be some hope of peace.

chicago, illinois


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for the several frontline programs regarding the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians. Overall, I think they were quite balanced.

Peace can only come when the Palestinians and their Moslem/Arab sponsor agree to recognize Israel as a JEWISH homeland for Jews. In other words, they must make an extra acknowledgement not only of Israel's right to exists but Israel's right to exists as a JEWISH STATE.

I do not see this happening when Arafat and Saeb Erakat claim the first temple does not exsist and they claim the entie old city as their own. I also noted the callous disregard for life by Mr. Erakat's comments near the end during a meeting with Shlomo Ben Ami when he said the violence was only another chapter.

Recently, our own government has concluded that Arafat has been engaged in terrorist activities. Israel has no choice but to defend herself until both Israel and America find a peace partner.

Stuart Peisner
lake mary, fl


Dear FRONTLINE,

If we want to see clearly how much the Palestinians are to blame for the problems in the Middle East, Israel should withdraw from the entire West Bank. Israel is not entitled to any of it. The existence of Jewish "settlements" can signal nothing less than Israel's intention to steal as much additional Palestinian land as it can get away with.

The fact that Americans believe the Frontline piece was "balanced" is a sad commentary on the present state of American journalism. Arafat, for all his warts, has repeatedly called for a UN investigation of what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians. The United States, at Israel's behest, has blocked any such investigation. That being the case, which side is trying to conceal the truth from the world?

James Caldwell
houston, texas

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