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FRONTLINE: Israel -- The Price of Victory

Original Broadcast: June 2, 1987


Program Transcript


NARRATOR: Tonight on FRONTLINE, Israel. Twenty years ago the Six Day War was supposed to guarantee freedom for the Jews. What has happened to that promise?

MERON BENVENISTI: On the seventh day of the Six Day War, we became a different country.

NARRATOR: The founding fathers of Zionism dreamed of a Jewish state on Jewish land but today Israel is a country divided -- by politics, religion and the Arabs, who still live on soil many Jews consider theirs alone.

ARHARON HALAMISH: I see no place for the Arabs in this country.

NARRATOR: Tonight, "Israel -- The Price of Victory."

JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. It was one of the most stunning military victories ever. The tiny country of Israel surrounded by enemy nations had struck preemptively. It was 1967. In just six days, the country went from being a beleaguered nation to a major power. She quadrupled in size, gaining the Golan Heights from Syria, the Gaza Strip and Sinai Desert from Egypt, and the West Bank of Jordan.

That was exactly 20 years ago this month, and much has happened to Israel in the time between. The Sinai Desert has been returned to Egypt... more wars have been fought... Israel is embroiled in international scandal... and today, the country is still not at peace with its neighbors or with itself.

FRONTLINE producer Ofra Bikel lives in New York and has traveled the world making films. But tonight, she goes back to the country in which she was born and raised. This is her personal essay on what happened in the last 20 years in Israel. It is a film from inside, a film not about war with the Arabs but about Israel and Israelis, and about the price of victory.

NARRATOR: On the first day of the war, the Israelis demolished 70 percent of the enemies' aircraft.

By the fourth day, they conquered the Sinai Penninsula, and at 9:30 at night, reached the Suez Canal.

In the first four days, they had entered the old city of Jerusalem, and conquered the West Bank of the Jordan River.

On the fifth and sixth day, they ascended the mountains to the north, and conquered the Golan Heights from the Syrians. It was total surrender of Israel's enemies; it was a great victory.

It was the end of what was called the Six Day War, which broke out between Israel and the Arabs on June 5, 1967.

MERON BENVENISTI, Former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem: On the seventh day of the Six Day War, we became a different country. Nothing was ever the same again. The border changed, society changed, perceptions changed, perceptions of ourselves changed. And at first it was intoxicating. Only later, much later, we understood what price we paid for that victory.

NARRATOR: Looking back, it was everything everyone had dreamed of. The state of Israel -- young -- on1y 19 years old, was delivered from mortal danger. Its people were now free, free to live and go about the business of building their country.

The Zionist dream was not a mirage anymore but a reality. A Jewish home for the children of Israel. And at last a safe home.

A sanctuary from the storms and vicissitudes that visited the Jewish people for generations.

Life seemed carefree. The future looked good. And the young state was finally reunited with its ancient past.

The Holy Places: Jerusalem.

And then there were the territories. Most importantly, 2,000 square miles of the West Bank of the Jordan River, conquered from King Hussein. This land, most Israelis firmly believed, would be the bargaining chips, to be exchanged for peace. But the Arabs wouldn't bargain. And the Israeli government wouldn't push. So eventually for most Israelis, the only thing that seemed certain, was that, Jerusalem must remain Jewish. The politically active left wanted to give back the land. And the right wanted to keep it. Meron Benvenisti was Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem between 1974 and 1978.

MERON BENVENISTI: Ideologically motivated people always know what they want. Therefore, the right and the left knew what they wanted after '67. It's the normal people, the center, who's always hesitant between the two, and that center, represented by Israeli governments, decided not to decide. They were not pushed to decide. But in that vacuum forces who knew that they wanted, stepped in. And they were mainly the religious, chauvinistic forces, who pushed the country towards settlement and toward annexation.

NARRATOR: They called themselves Gush Emunim, the Block of the Faithful. And in the early '70s, they set out to claim the West Bank. The government sent in the army to dislodge them.

Scenes like this were repeated time and time again, as neither side would give up. Thirteen years later, it's clear who won the battle. The settlement Ofra was established in 1976. We met Arharon Halamish there, one of its founders.

ARHARON HALAMISH, Settler: We came to Ofra 11 years ago because at that time, the government, the labor government that was running the country, they were fundamentally opposed to Jewish settlement on the mountain region of Judea and Sumaria. And we, the supporters of the Gush Emunim, we wanted to establish a new political reality of establishing settlements here. And I think we succeeded in doing this.

NARRATOR: They have succeeded because of their firm belief that God had given the land to them. To them, and not to the Arabs.

ARHARON HALAMISH: I think the Arabs had a role which they fulfilled, up to now, of being a sort of passive custodian of the country, at the time when the majority of the Jews were no longer living here. Now I think their job is more or less over. And if they were to understand what their real role is, I think, they would of their own volition 1eave the country, because they would realize that this is the country of the Jews.

SHIFRA BLASS, Settler: It's never been a question in my mind if it was our land, Jewish land or Arab land. It was always clear to me that this was part of the historic homeland of the Jewish people. I think if I had had a problem like that, I wouldn't have been rushing out here so quickly. In the minds of those who came here there were no two ways about it.

ARHARON HALAMISH: I think it very improbable -- illogical that God having gone to so much trouble, to return his people to their country after 2,000 years, would decide that they're gonna now share it with some other people who have came here during this time. The way I see it, this is the Jewish people's country, and this is the land for the Jewish people only. I see no place for the Arabs in this country.

NARRATOR: But the Arabs were there in the territories. Over a million of them. Officially citizens of Jordan, but controlled and ruled by Israel. A hostile community, resentful, not only of their occupation, but of the threat to their land.

Over the years the Israeli government let the Jewish settlements grow, and then, became itself an active participant.

There are now 135 settlements, cities and communities across the West Bank, housing 70,000 people. Many of them have been built by the government to attract young families looking for a decent place in which to raise their children.

The government offers them low mortgage rates to bring them here, where they can buy or build their homes.

Israeli Woman:

(Translation) We saw an ad in the paper saying Ariel. So we decided to go and look. And we came here. We liked what we saw. The terms were good so we bought it.

Israeli Man:

The economic factor was much more important than the political factor.

Israeli Woman:

There was no political factor, it was more a matter of having no choice.

NARRATOR: Some of them came in spite of their political beliefs.

Like Amos.

AMOS: It was foreign to me. It went against my political views.

Amos' Wife:

I would have loved to live in Tel Aviv, but we couldn't afford it, so we had to compromise.


Did you compromise on your political beliefs?


Yes, I compromised on my political beliefs, because I always wanted a house with a garden, a separate house, and the terms enabled me to achieve this dream.

Man # 2:

The government offers very good terms here. Because it wants to settle this area, to make it difficult to return to the Arabs.

Israeli Woman:

I'm sure that they're not going to return this place. Even if one believes in peace, and we all want peace, I don't want my kids to fight. But to remove people from their homes in order to make peace? This is beyond me.

Israeli Man:

This is my home. There is no question of returning it.

NARRATOR: They are all aware they told us, that living in the West Bank, or Samaria, as it is called in Israel, has caused them to shift politically to the right.

Israeli Woman:

Today, I would vote for the right wing, the Likud, because I live here. Not because I like their politics.

Man # 1:

I too would vote Likud, but I hope they become more decisive, otherwise I would have to move more to the right.

Man # 2:

Today I have doubts whether to vote right, or extreme right.

Woman :

I feel the same. If the Likud, the right will not become more decisive, I would vote extreme right.

DR. MEIR PAIL, Historian: Gradually, since the end of the Six Day War, we have been turning towards the right. The center had turned into the right, and the left has turned into the center. You can put it in another...

NARRATOR: Dr. Meir Pail is a historian and a general in the Israeli Army Reserve.

DR. MEIR PAIL: We say that the nationalists turn to be gradually chauvinists. And the chauvinists turned into racists. So the existing process in Israel is we proceed towards the right. We are getting more, more and more nationally fanatics. We are -- we are, I think, almost crossed that barrier of racism. I won't say racism, excuse me, chauvinism, and we face racism. Kahana is not an accident. He is an outcome of the objective situation.

NARRATOR: We found Meir Kahana not in the West Bank, but in a small town in the northeast of Israel. Kahana is a New York born rabbi, who immigrated to Israel in 1972.

He was voted into Parliament in 1984, on a platform which called for the expulsion of all Arabs from Israeli controlled territories.

His constituents are the angry and the disaffected, wherever they are.

FIMA, Resident of Bet Shean: There is no word to describe my life. Hard is not the word for it. For me it's hard enough, but I have three youngsters who want to go to the movies once in awhile, and they can't, because I don't have the money to give them, it's very hard.

NARRATOR: Fima is an oriental Jew. He was born in an Arab country, Morrocco. In the past 30 years, hundreds of thousands of oriental Jews came to Israel. They now constitute 55 percent of the country's Jewish population. Here in Bet Shean, almost everyone is an oriental Jew.

When they first came here, close to the border, they suffered from enemy shelling and lived in tents and shacks. Many, like Fima, fought in the Six Day War. But didn't share in the prosperity that came after it.

Industry never came to Bet Shean and its people feel abandoned and left out.

Angry Man #1: I see myself as a fifth class citizen. Period. I'm not asking for special privileges, I just want to be treated as a regular citizen.

Angry Man #2: We have the highest unemployment rate in the country, and it's getting worse. They have invested in other places and neglected us.

Angry Man #3: Sixty percent of the people are unemployed and nobody gives a damn! And when there is work, they pay you a hundred and eighty dollars a month.

Angry Man #4: A hundred and thirty dollars, they pay women!!

Angry Man #5: A dollar twenty an hour, to people with experience!

Angry Man #3: Seventy families left this town last month!!

Angry Man #6: Nobody gives a damn, let them go!! Instead of opening up plants for us, they let the people leave.

HANANIA: Bet Shean is simply not on the map. It's a faraway town. Nobody knows its name. I think it would be better if they just gave it away as a present to somebody. Maybe then it would develop. I know I sound bitter.

NARRATOR: Hanania's bitterness has deep roots.

HANANIA: I feel that the oriental Jews are being discriminated against. I've always felt that way since I came to Israel as a child. I've always felt that the Oriental Jews were inferior. Especially the Moroccan Jews.

The Western Jews feel that they are one nation, and that we are another nation. That is the way we see it in Bet Shean.

When we came here in 1962, from the Arab countries, you didn't hear of any VIP, member of Parliament or Prime Minister come to greet us at the airport. They simply dumped us here in the middle of the night.

Today you have a Russian coming from the Soviet Union, like Shcharansky... I think that with the money that they spent on his reception, they could have built a whole plant in Bet Shean.

It was a wonderful reception, but it hurts. Because, I am sure that if an oriental Jew were to come, just as intelligent as Shcharansky they wouldn't have received him like that.

NARRATOR: Every Monday and Wednesday, Hanania checks into the local employment agency. The few jobs that exist are low-payed, yet they require a knowledge of English and 12 years of schooling, which Hanania doesn't have.

Hanania: But there are Arabs working there! Surely they don't have these qualifications.

Employment Man: Well we will certainly check into that. We'll see what we can do about it.

Angry Man 4: I have worked in a factory for 19 years. Then I was fired and they hired an Arab in my place.

Angry Man 3: I think that all these years that I've been unemployed is because of the Arabs.

FIMA: They conquered this country without a war, because they work and we are unemployed.

HANANIA: They don't come to work for the money. They do it in order to break the Jewish people. It's for their flag -- for the PLO.

NARRATOR: It's to these sentiments that Kahana appeals when he addresses his audience. He tells them of other unemployed people he has met. And about the Arabs who had replaced them.

Then he talks about coexistence.

KAHANA: Coexistence? There is no coexistence. It's either them or us. They have 22 countries. Terrific! Let them coexist there! But this is our country. This is the Jewish country, and that's it. They like it? Fine! They get out!! Where? Who cares! They can go to Disneyland! Just not here.

Angry Man #8: A good Arab is one that is 20 feet underground.

Fima: I don't trust the Arabs.

Angry Man #3: If I were allowed to slaughter them, I would slaughter them.

Interviewer: So, why not give them back the territories, I ask? They'll create their own state and they won't bother you.

Hanania: No, I'm not ready to return these territories, but I think that we should get the Arabs out of these territories.

Interviewer: What should we do with the Arabs?

Fima: Let them go. They have enough places to go to.

NARRATOR: But rather than leave, Arabs from the occupied territories pour into Israel. More than 100,000 come to work in Israel every day, performing most, if not all, the menial work in the country.

This is not what the founding fathers of Zionism expected when they dreamed about Jewish work by Jewish hands in a Jewish land.

At the top of the echelon, there are the Israeli Arabs. Arabs whose families stayed on through 1948, and became Israeli citizens. They speak Hebrew.

And here they offer Israelis the one thing which is truly shared between Arabs and Jews. Arab food.

What else do they share? How does the average Israeli, in the cafes of Tel-Aviv, feel about the occupation of the West Bank? The Arab work? Some people we asked seemed to take it for granted. Others said it unfortunate but necessary. Only a few found it painful, but they weren't doing much about it. They had fought and lost the political battles, they said.

Ronit Weiss is 33 years old. She has two children.

RONIT WEISS: I live my own life. Not active in anything today. Only raising the children and working and going to the university. We call it in Hebrew "play a small head" -- it's not trying to change anything although you criticize what you see around you. It's keeping your low profile and, not to get involved. This is the thing. Maybe I'm not better than, you know, the people around me, but it's not the kind of society that I think my parents wanted to build in this country. You see, they came from the Holocaust, and I think that they wanted to make better people from the Israeli nation. But, for example, what I dislike most of all is us being rulers in this country, and having second class citizens which are like shadows in the background of our life. I mean, the Arabs, and I'm raising children in this country, and I see that they don't know that once Jews used to clean the streets and wash the dishes in restaurants. I mean it's a kind of world that I don't like to be a part of it. And sometimes I feel like emotionally I emigrated from this country.

NARRATOR: Rabbi Weinberg.

RABBI WEINBERG, Religious Leader: A thinking man in Israel has two options. Either to leave this country, to emigrate -- or to go back to religion -- back to the Torah. To rebuild himself and the nation according to the Torah.

NARRATOR: Israel is a secular non-religious state. And that, says Rabbi Weinberg, is the cause of the country's crisis. It's not the occupation or political tensions, it's living a life with no firm Jewish foundation.

It is a theory which is hotly debated in Israel. But unquestionably, the number of the religious fundamentalists, and their influence has grown tremendously since the Six Day War -- the conquest of the holy places sparked a religious awakening throughout the country.

Young people turning to orthodox religion became a commonplace phenomenon and this brought with it deep divisions and new tensions, between the non-religious and the very religious.

Yeshivot, religious seminaries, abound. With many who had left contemporary society, and turned to fundamentalist religion, leading a quasi-monastic life, or studying Jewish law -- arguing, interpreting and reinterpreting.

Yigal Miller is 34 years old. He used to be a social worker.

YIGAL MILLER: I first began to think of turning to religion at the time of the Six Day War. I was a boy of 14. And all of us in Israel were hypnotized by the victory. We were beside ourselves with joy. But as for me, I couldn't see which right I had as a Jewish boy to live here in Israel. And do I have more of a right than any Arab boy who lives here? Any claim that I examined could have been put forward by an Arab. Our forefathers are buried here, so are theirs. Our forefathers have fought here, so have theirs. No claim that I examined convinced me that I have more of a right than they do.

NARRATOR: In his anguish, Yigal Miller turned to God. He is not alone. There are hundreds, some say thousands of young people. Lawyers and engineers -- filmmakers and fighter pilots who have left their work and their homes to look for guidance here, where the word of God is the answer.

YIGAL MILLER: Now I look at every moment of my life through the eyes of the Jewish law, the Halacha. So this too is a problem of Jewish law. Is an Arab allowed to live here? Am I allowed to sell him land? Those are problems, and we have clear verdicts for them throughout our history of 3500 years. We know exactly what the answers are.

NARRATOR: It's that certainty that the answers are the right ones and the fervor of this belief that has led some of them to take their families and move to that part of the land that they say God has bequeathed to them in the Bible.

"Go over this Jordan, thou and all these people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot should tread upon, that have I given unto you."

Even if it means settling here, in the heart of a hostile Arab city, Hebron, a city rich with Jewish history and tradition, but now populated only by Arabs.

Thirty-eight families live here, opening a new front in the battle for this ancient land.

New Yorker: Being here is a statement to the Jewish people and to the world saying that um, we've come back, and Hebron is part of the land of Israel and always was and always will be.

Man: We feel that we live here not for our own sakes. We are the messengers of this nation. The people of Israel who have returned to their land we are must naturally return to Hebron. And we are simply the messengers.

NARRATOR: Self-appointed messengers of the nation, they live protected by the somewhat reluctant army of that nation -- by the will and strength of their belief, they've held the Israeli government hostage. Not daring to dislodge them, the government must surround them and protect them.

Israeli soldiers constantly patrol the streets and alleys of Arab cities. Almost every Israeli citizen doing his military reserve duty, will find himself at one time or another, policing hostile Arab streets. For some, it is the only real contact they would every have with the Arab population.

AVRUM BURG, Advisor to the Foreign Minister: I see a real threat and a real danger and a real impact on the Israeli society of occupation of the West Bank. What happened to the Israeli individual, who goes to serve on Miluim on reserve, and he has to be very brutal in the Casbah of Shchem or the Casbah of Hebron, and he comes back to his own society, to his family, to his social circles, to his work, to his job, to his city, with this experience of brutalization.

NARRATOR: Avrum Burg, advisor to the Foreign Minister.

AVRUM BURG: The Israelis are being exposed to an experience which is bad for themselves back home, more than that I will say. The fact that we are engaged in a permanent war situation conditions since '48 -- and it became much more deeper since '67, because it's next door -- prevents us from investing resources, the physical resources, the fiscal resources, the manpower, the cultural resources, to build the Israel that we want!

I want to achieve whatever I have to achieve: spiritually, morally et cetera. And I cannot do it. Why? Because I'm engaged in this kind of occupation.

And if I have to decide and you always have to decide, and it's a very difficult decision, if I want to give back part of myself, part of my land, part of my homeland, in order to restore my people, I will do it. As painful as it will be.

NARRATOR: But to give back what land? When Israeli leaders talk, as they often do about negotiating a territorial compromise with King Hussein, which means land -- for peace, how much land is there to give back?

MERON BENVENISTI: The question of territorial compromise, which is what to return, is not a problem anymore because they know what they can offer the King, he'll never accept. He said it even in 1970, when there were very few settlements. To say it now, where at the same time, governments, even labor governments say that they will not allow the uprooting of any settlement, means that there is nothing to give back, and therefore the whole notion of territorial compromise, is dead. But they need the jargon -- they need to say, knowing full well that they'll never get to a point, when they have to draw maps. Because they will always stay on the procedural phase, and will not go to substance. Therefore, I don't think that it is important. It's only rhetorics.


Ezer Weizman: Everybody respects King Hussein extremely, and we do hope to meet him and talk to him.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres: I myself am ready to go to Amman. I'm sure Israel would like to see if King Hussein would like to come to Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Shamir: Peace will come by talks between the two parties.

Shimon Peres: We are prepared to consider any proposal put forward by the Jordanians.

Yitzhak Shamir: Israel wants peace and not war.

NARRATOR: If there should be war, few people in Israel worry that Israeli children will be outgunned. The worry is that with the occupation, they will be outnumbered. The danger is not with their lives, it's to their way of life.

Zvi Kesse is a sociologist.

ZVI KESSE, Sociologist: Now, from the year of 14 down, there is a majority of Arab citizens in the greater Israel area. It means that in 25 years, they will amount to about 50, maybe more, percent of the population. And then we are stuck. Either we are going to be a binational country. It means non-Jewish country, which contradicts the whole Zionist idea, or we are an undemocractic states. And for me and many of the Israelians, the democracy is our temple, and we are not ready to live in a nondemocratic country.

MERON BENVENISTI: Israel can be a democracy, but democracy will be limited to the Israeli citizens, and there is a very convenient way of evading the issue. And that is that Palestinians are occupied. They are not citizens, and they don't demand the vote. They are disenfranchised, but this is occupation. So you are not faced with a dilemma, because you need the Arabs to demand the vote, an Israeli cannot demand the vote for the Arabs, if the Arabs don't want that vote. And they don't the vote -- want the vote, because they don't want to be part of the Israeli system, they want to have their own system, they will have their own government. So the problem, the dilemma, and the moral problem eh, doesn't bother the Israelis because there is no problem. Democracy is therefore limited to the Jewish segment.

NARRATOR: Deomocracy, war, peace, and occupation should all be of paramount interest to these young people -- each of whom will be called to serve in the army, to defend the country and its policies.

Teacher: Who would support the peace process at any price?

Do you believe that we should give up some of the territories for peace such as the territories in the West Bank?

Girl 1: I think we don't have to give back all those territories.

Boy 1: I wouldn't give up the territories.

Girl 3: Giving up territories won't bring us peace.

Boy 2: I think there is no limit to give up -- we can give up the Sinai, we gave up already, and we can give up Shomron, we can give up Jerusalem, and we can give up all the country and we don't get anything by this.

Teacher: If you are against giving up territories how do you believe peace will come?

Boy 3: I don't see peace coming very soon.

Girl 3: I don't think peace will come.

NARRATOR: And so between war and peace, the Israelis live the normal life of a modern consumer society.

A life fueled by more than three billion dollars a year of American aid.

Professor Ishiau Leibovitz.

PROFESSOR ISHIAU LEIBOVITZ, Scientist, philosopher: It's a very agreeable situation. Highly agreeable situation. We have a very high standard of living by the money of the American taxpayers. A very comfortable life.

NARRATOR: Professor Leibovitz, scientist and philosopher, is one of the country's most important thinkers.

PROFESSOR LEIBOVITZ: The existence of the Jewish people over 60 or 80 generations in galut, was an heroic situation. We never got from the goyish world a cent. We supported ourselves. We maintained our own institutions. Now we have taken three million Jews, gathered them here, and turned them over to be parasites. We are parasites of America and in some sense, we are even the mercenaries of America. To fight the wars of American interests or what the ruling persons in America consider to be the American interests.

NARRATOR: The war in Lebanon was not fought for American interests. And many believe that it wasn't fought for Israeli interest either, that it was a culmination of Israel's feelings since the war of '67, that it was the superpower of the Middle East.

Yacov Gutterman lost a son in Lebanon. Raz was 21. He was killed in the first battle of the first day of the war. June 1982.

YACOV GUTTERMAN: For every single father in the world, who lost his son, I think the grief, the sadness, the pain is the same. But to my grief, to my sorrow, to my pain, I add also an enormous anger. We were convinced that all our wars were without any choice, that we are standing with our back to the sea, and we are defending our wives, our children, our homes. This war, and the Prime Minister Menachem Begin -- he himself wrote that this was a war with choice -- this I will never forgive them. Never, never to my last day of my life. They murdered our sons.

The dream of the Israeli free country for the Jews is not just my dream. It is the dream of my grandfathers, it is the dream of my father, it is my private deep dream. With the Lebanese war--with the murder of my son--and what's going on now in recent years, recent months, recent days. I think that slowly but surely somebody's killing our dream.

NARRATOR: It was a dream which first turned into reality for Gutterman, when he came to Israel in 1950. Having survived the Holocaust in Europe, he joined a kibbutz where he became a teacher and raised a family of two boys, and two girls. A life embarked upon with so much hope and optimism.

YACOV GUTTERMAN: Till the fall of our son, I was a very optimistic person. The optimisim is escaping from me piece after piece, and when I see every single new settlement in the new territories, and intolerence and the hatred to the Arabs, I am less and less optimistic.

NARRATOR: And when he looks at his daughter Michal, who is 12 and Ranit, who is 16, he thinks of his eldest son, who would have been 26.

YACOV GUTTERMAN: I wanted him to live in a country that was as near as possible to my dreams. Nice, free, democratic country, attractive to the Jewish people -- young people will come from all over the world to live here, to work enjoy the life to go to the enjoy our beautiful sun, our beautiful landscapes, as every human being in the world has a right. What's going now with the cycles of war every seven, every eight every 10 years... Young Jews are not coming to Israel. This is the beginning of our end.

NARRATOR: For years, the Israelis have paid the price of living a life of no war and no peace.

Bomb threats and acts of terror have become a part of the Israeli reality.

There has always been Arab terror in the Israeli street. But then some thing new happened, terror was taken into the Arab street. Arabs were maimed and killed and bombed by Jews and a new term began to appear -- Jewish terrorist, and a Jewish underground.

Hagai Segal was part of the Jewish underground. He had planted a bomb in the car of the Arab mayor of Ramallah, who lost his leg in the explosion. Segal was sentenced to three years in jail. He got out after two, in May 1986.

HAGAI SEGAL, Member, Jewish Underground: As I said in the trial, I am at peace with what I've done. A few of our friends said they were sorry. I was not one of them. I feel that the people who are hurt deserved what they got.

It was in 1980, the security situation on the roads here was at its worst. Everyone of our trips was accompanied by stones thrown at us, and hand grenades. And it ended with the murder of six men in Hebron. That's when I decided that something had to be done. Some people came to me saying there was a plan for reprisal, will I join? I said yes. Then we did some intelligence work in the field, and then we planted the bombs.

NARRATOR: He doesn't see himself as a terrorist.

HAGAI SEGAL: I see myself as someone who is fighting for his home, his children. If that's the definition of a terrorist, then I am one. If not, then I'm not.

Interviewer: Were you horrified when you heard about what happened?

Hagai Segal's Mother: If you mean by horrified that suddenly my son is in prison, maybe that fact horrified me, but the reason for it not at all. I felt that that was the natural conclusion of the education that he's received since he's received since he was born, one can say.

Interviewer: Namely. . .

Hagai Segal's Mother: Namely that uh, we've always understood that this country belongs entirely to us, and if we can't get it in peaceful ways we have to get it in other ways.

Interviewer: Were you proud of him?

Hagai Segal's Mother: I was proud of him, definitely, there wasn't one single second -- from the time I heard until this minute -- that I wasn't proud of him.

NARRATOR: This mother is not proud.

ZEHAVA FUCHS: I have a son who is 19. He was in the army. And he's been in jail for the last year and a half for taking part in the murder of an Arab cab driver. It was a time of unrest in the country and a Jewish cab driver was murdered near Jerusalem by three Arab youths. Two days later, an Arab cab driver was murdered, and one month later they arrested my son for taking part in the murder of the Arab cab driver.

NARRATOR: Zehava Fuchs is a nurse. Her husband is a chemist. Nothing in her politics, her background, or the way she brought up her children prepared her for what had happened.

ZEHAVA FUCHS: It was a terrible surprise for us. We never expected anything like that. We are a home with non-extremist political views. And we never had any discussions at home which could give us a hint that any of our children may have an extremist point of view.

NARRATOR: But now she finds herself sitting with the members of the so-called underground, next to Hagai Segal, in a demonstration calling for the pardon of the six underground members who are still in jail. She doesn't share their beliefs -- nor does she condone their acts, yet she has thrown her lot in with theirs, believing that they will succeed in their fight to free their people, while she will not, that they have the political lobby and the sympathy of the public.

ZEHAVA FUCHS: When the underground members were caught everyone said they were good people. The media described them as patriots. Even those who are against what they've done said maybe it's the wrong thing to do but the motives were good.

NARRATOR: She believes that this had influenced her son who like other youngsters regarded the underground as a role model.

It is the underground's violent actions, and the public's ambivalence towards them, for which she feels she is now paying the price.

HERON BENVENISTI: There is a very heavy price that we pay for no war no peace. Because you don't know what norms to apply to the situation. At war you kill an enemy and you get a citation. Humanistic values are suspended. It's an environment that is devoid of humanistic values. At peace, you kill a person, you go to jail, you are hanged. But when you are in a situation that is neither war nor a peace, then, and you have no guidance, then you don't know what norm to apply to that situation. When I say, for instance, the situation is irreversible, what I'm really saying is, my friends, there is a price. You cannot think that all the time you can make mistakes and nothing is going to happen to you. Evil sticks to the hands.

ZEHAVA FUCHS: I feel like a Greek tragedy. This is not how we've brought up our children. This is not what we've had in mind for them. But suddenly we find ourselves in a situation which has nothing to do with our beliefs.

NARRATOR: And as I heard her talk about her son, anguished over the past and wondering about the future, I thought about all Israelis who are also anguished and wondering. This is not what they had in mind, or what they planned. It' s not the road they had set out to walk 20 years ago. Then there was so much hope and expectations of building a great future for their children -- in a country which was safe, independent and just.

Now they feel that something's gone very wrong. But they don't know what or how or where to go from here. So they just keep going on, and on.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I hope you'll join us again for FRONTLINE.

I'm Judy Woodruff.





Production Assistant: MERLE R. EISMAN

Written, Produced and Directed by OFRA BIKEL

Production Secretary: ROBERT LEVINE




Graphic Design: JACK FOLEY

Narrator: OFRA BIKEL


Associate Producer: MAURICE CHAYUT


Production: Manager N. ZERWANITZER

Production: Assistant MARSHA BEMKO

Executive Assistant: KAREN L. ROACH



Assistant: Camera ADI SASSON


Associate Producer: MARSHA BEMKO






Business Manager: KAI FUJITA

Producer/Director: JANET McFADDEN


Post Production Supervisor: JUDY BANKS

Senior Producer: MICHAEL KIRK


Israel-- The Price of Victory

Executive Editor: LOUIS WILEY, JR.

Executive Producer: DAVID FANNING

An Ofra Bikel Production for FRONTLINE

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posted april 5, 2005

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