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?


As someone who has just recently returned from an investigative trip to the very areas highlighted by your program last night, I feel obliged to tell you that there are no quick and easy solutions to this conflict (as many of us have come to realize).

Unfortunately, at the root of this conflict lies one of the most powerful, yet most destructive forces the world has come to know - religion.

For centuries, wars have been waged over religion. Thousands, if not millions, have been lost for many of the very same fundamental and ideological arguments that we are witnessing today in the middle east and specifically the holy lands.

Unfortunately, with all that has gone on in modern history between Israel and the Arab nations, this conflict has progressed far beyond any religious disagreement. There have been land confiscations, all out calls for destructions of the other people, the forming of terrorist infrastructures, killing of innocent civilians, shattered economies, and broken dreams. On both sides.

One thing that I learned while on my expedition was that every problem seems to have four reasons for its origination. And that every solution seems to lead to four new problems.

While it is true that the jewish people have occupied lands that were inhabited by palestinians, it must also be noted that the palestinians and many of their arab neighbours had their lands seized after they failed to destroy the jewish state in numerous wars that were thrust upon the Isrealis without any provocation.

At the same time, the israelis have placed extraordinary, amazingly harsh conditions upon palestinians living with these areas. Many are humiliated, many are killed.

So what came first... the chicken or the egg.

Maybe there is no real solution as long as we continuing to hash out the past, mostly through a game of historical broken telephone.

I have one piece of advice for the Frontline Crew, and anybody else who has a keen interest in the current situation engulfing the lives of millions of people in the Middle East.

Within Israel, there is a town named Abu Gosh. In this town, Jews and Arabs live side by side, in harmony, in peace, in trust. How do they do it? How can it be replicated?

The answer we've all been looking (hoping) for, may be in the very backyard of these feuding neighbours.

Rob Linden
toronto, ontario


Shattered Dreams is truly an excellent show. I think all sides can agree on that.

Again, the old saying: the Palestinans never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" is revealing.

The Fatah's decision to incorporate violence into the negotiations to push Israel's hand, seemed to backfire and cause a lot of pain for many of people. Likewise, Arafat deciding not to counter Clinton's offer (and Barak's modified proposal based on Clinton's offer) seems to be the epitome of negotiating in "bad faith" that led to the situation we are in today.

Keep up the great work and honest reporting. It is refreshing to see this!

rob shapiro
los angeles, ca


Excellent progam! I also really appreciate the detailed timeline, which helps put current events in better perspective.

I thought it was especially telling that Bibi Netanyahu candidly said in 1997 that he was "giving up Hebron for the rest of Judea and Sumeria" and as another person's comments pointed out "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."

I agree with several people's comments that the settlements are a major part of the problem that deserved more emphasis in the program.

Could you please add to the web site a timeline showing year by year the number of settlements and settlers? Or provide a link to some other web site that would provide such information.

Keep up the good work on this and other topics!

John McCarthy
berkeley, ca

FRONTLINE's editors respond:
Information on the numbers of Jewish settlers in the occupied territories can be found on this page of the companion website for FRONTLINE's "Battle for the Holy Land," which originally aired on April 4, 2002.


I try to never miss Frontline for shows such as this. I think it was fairly balanced given that all American media sees the world from a western, generally pro-Israeli, point of view.

I believe that 2 things must happen for there to be peace in Israel/Palestine.

1) The Israelis must move out of the settlements back to pre '67 borders.

2) Palestinians must give up the right of return.

Any leader on either side must stand firm and not be swayed by the extremists of their own people. I believe that the majority of those who call Israel/Palestine home want peace desperately.

Pamela Drake
oakland, ca


I am thankful to pbs for showing another mideast program as detailed and factual as this. It seems to me that there has not been peace in Palestine because the Jews will never TRUST the Palestinians. And the reason that they won't is because they have an enormous cloud hanging over them that they call the Holocaust.

Until they have the courage to get out from under that cloud; they will allow fear and paranoia to control the lives of not only those who live in this land, but also those who live all over the world as this outrageous conflict spreads worldwide.

san antonio, 78249


Watching PBS Frontline last night was truly and eye-opener.

It seems that over the years Israel made many concessions for peace handing over a lot of land for the hope of peace, but the Palestinian Authority kept demanding more. They were never satisfied. When they got this, they wanted that.

I was shocked to see Yassar Arafat kissing a leader of Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization embraced by Yassar Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. It doesn't make sense.

How can there ever be peace if the leader of the Palestinian people supports terrorist organizations?

Why is it that the radical Islamic Fundamentalists run the schools. Isn't that the civic job of the leadership. Shouldn't the Palastinian Authority run the schools and stop the teaching of hate and violence and try to promote understanding between the nations and the people.

I don't blame Israel for militarily defending their citizens. I would certainly expect my government to do as much.

Susan Johns
west palm beach, florida


It is the first time on American TV that I have seen a true "non biased" program about the conflict between Arabs and Israelies. I would like to thank the makers of this feature and hope to see more in the future...

This conflict did not start yesterday, and will not end tommorow. My hope is after a few new generations of both peoples, they will find a way to live together in peace.

monroe, wa


The thing that impressed me the most about this program was the lack of blame-placing on either side.Both Israel and the Palestinians have acted cruelly and irresponsibly in more instances that we care to remember. And they still continue to do so as if they have drawn no knowledge out of past experiences.

The history of the Middle East is too complex and has undergone so many changes in the course of the centuries for any of us to assert with 100% certainty what belongs to whom. But, nonetheless,the fact remains that the state of Israel was formed with a population of a minority of Jews born in the region and a majority of Eastern Europeans who were yes united by religion, but were not, so to speak, indigenous to Palestine.

On the other hand, the Arabs had lived there for generations and through no fault of their own saw their land partitioned by nations. I see the Palestinians, regardless of their many faults, living a life as refugees outside Palestine or a life as subordinates in their own "occupied territories".Nobody likes to be considered a non-entity and nobody likes that fact thrown in their face at every available opportunity. This fosters anger and rebellion.

The Israelis are at an advantage economically, militarily and in their political alliance. I think peace will be possible only if they stop overstating their strength.

Floriana Kranovich
davenport, iowa


As a Christian with Jewish friends, not knowing any Palestineans, and viewing the situation at "arms length", it still seems to me that the Palestineans simply want some of their land back. Having no other way to attract attention, their freedom fighters offer up their very lives. I think they are simply frustrated at having their homeland taken away and being reduced to aparthied status.

Could we think that the Jewish people would be more sympathetic given their terrible Holocaust experience--or are they applying other lessons?

Dick Olsen
green village, new jersey


Everyone knows the answer to this problem--if only Israel would stop taking over the West Bank and Gaza and let the Palestinians have their own land and independence, none of the bombings would take place.

Please, someone tell me, why this issue of "Settlements" and "Isaelis ruling the Palestinians" is never the topic of discussion on night time television or all of these visits that Sharon has had to the White House?

It is absurd the way the media also has twisted and distorted the real issues. I wish more Americans were educated about world affairs in general. As an educator, I feel that the false portrayal of Arabs, depicted on one-sided news channels, has done the most damage.

I know if I were in their position, I too might lose my decency and make noise in an attempt for someone, anyone to listen. Just listen.....That is all that is needed to stop the fighting and live in peace.

As an Arab American, my heart is heavy for them. And also for the Israelis who pay for their government's selfish plan to eliminate Palestinian dreams. . . .

el paso, texas


Bravo for a job well-done. The U.S. mainstream media is so one-sided in its presentation of the Mideast conflict, this Frontline provided a welcome relief -- it was balanced and showed both sides of this tragic story.

The American public is essentially fair-minded and decent, but woefully ignorant on the Palestinian side of the issues. We cannot come to an informed opinion on the Mideast since we always are told about suicide bombers, but never the details of the illegal Israeli settlements and atrocities the Israeli army commits that fuel suicide bombings.

To learn those details, we have to ferret out the information ourselves by reading the European press on the Web, or by reading a publication like The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

Now if you could do another program on the Israeli land-grab and daily occupation of Palestinian lands and humilation of the people there, you would be doing world peace a real service.

chelmsford, ma


The Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat engages in deliberate obfuscation by using the tried and true PLO technique of moral equivalencing when he says that Israel building settlements is just as offensive to the Palestinians as a suicide bomber is to the Israeli's.

How can the deliberate targeting of grandmothers pushing baby strollers be compared to building a house on a hillside?

John Pinckney
gilbert, arizona


Your program about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was first rate.

It has always seem to me that the apporach to peace in the Middle East has always been available to a discerning, courageous Palestinian leadership---nonviolence and civil disobedience. This approach has been well documented by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr. Of course, this appoach is predicated upon an understanding of the civic culture of the dominant polity. Gandhi and Dr. King understood that there was the possiblity that Britain and the United States would ultimately respond to justifiable grievances expressed in a nonviolent manner. Conversely such an approach would have failed if Stalin, Hitler, Mao,Sadddam Hussein, etc. dominated the polity.

The question for the Palestinain leadership is what is the basic civic culture of Isarel? Imagine a nonviolent march employed by the Palestinians to express their grievances---would the Isarelis brutally suppress such a march, or join with the Palestinians?

This approach historically, however, has also had disastrous consequences for the leader. Peacemakers are not "blessed" but, as in the case of Gandhi and Dr. King, assassinated. In the Middle East, we can add the names of Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin.

Perhaps it is this latter fact that inhibits the Palestinian leadership from adopting such an approach to peace in the Middle East.

Allen Weintraub
white plains, ny


Thank you for a thorough treatment of the peace process post Oslo. Out of the mountain of arguments, historical, sentimental, and otherwise, one clear issue takes prominence since 9/11.

Are the Israelis part of a wider movment that seeks to turn the World into an Islamic state? No.

Are the Palestinians? Yes. The time for being an unbiased broker are past. I believe if we no longer fall for the Palestinian trick of expecting the whole World to rush to the occupied territories every time they provoke the Israelis into a response, then they will give up.

If they want to continue their war against the Israelis, that's their privilege. But it's also Israel's right to fight back. All the talk of fighting not solving anything is nonsense. The problem has been the constant intervention to keep the issue from being finally decided. Unconditional surrender would have solved this problem long ago.

tampa, fl


This was perhaps the saddest program I have ever seen. So close to peace, to be shattered by Hamas and Sharon. A riveting program. I saw a few events you did not explain clearly. Why did opening the tunnel cause a riot? Why did Sharon choose to visit the Temple Mount? A longer look at the "drawing" of the land distribution would have helped. Clarification of what Mr. Arafat meant about there being no Temple Mount now.

Nevertheless, this was eye-opening for me, and I did shed some tears for the victims here: the Palestinians, and the dead Israeli civilians. Thank you for a remarkable documentary.

clemson, sc


Thank you for Shattered Dreams of Peace. It is clear to me the Palestinians do not want peace. That can be the only explanation to all the missed opportunities. They have made war and killing the objective of their entire culture. What a pity.

tampa, fl


home - introduction - the negotiations - "parallel realities" - timeline - join the discussion - interviews
readings & links - historic documents - tapes & transcripts - press reaction
credits - privacy policy - FRONTLINE - wgbh - pbsi

top photograph © richard t. nowitz/corbis
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation