Responses to Middle East Turmoil


BOB ABERNETHY, host: As the so-called Arab Spring spread out from Egypt and Tunisia, the New York film makers Oren Rudovsky and Menachem Daum were in Israel listening to the hopes and concerns of Palestinian Arabs and Israelis. Here is a sample — unscientific but still revealing.

SHMUEL GROAG (Israeli Architect): The revolution in Egypt, the first reaction of the Israeli public was kind of being in panic as if, you know, you see democracy on one side and people are panicking.

SHWECKY (Israeli Environmentalist): Listen, the situation is not good for us or for them, because there won’t be a strong leadership, and we are the ones who have to be strong or else they’ll wipe us out.

DAFNA: (Israeli Sociologist): I understand the fear of Muslim Brothers, but it doesn’t seem that’s what people in Egypt or in Tunisia want. They really want freedom, and I think we should trust them on what they want. They want to live properly. They want to have jobs. They want to live like everybody else.

ROBBY: (Israeli Founder of Organ Donor Society): I think we need to focus on democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, and hope in the marketplace of ideas that tolerance of other people in the region will play out to Israel’s benefit.

SHEIK NAMIR: (Palestinian Historian): The Palestinian people have had a lot of problems. Every time an event like that happens in an Arab country it’s good for Palestine. Every flag raised calls for the liberation of the Palestinian people, and we’re witnesses to that.

TAHU: (Palestinian Poet and Elder): We are now in front of a bright, new beginning, hopefully. Look at the Europeans. They are supporting the Libyan people, not their rulers. Before they used to side with the rulers. Now everybody knows the truth and feels sorry for the Palestinian people and all other people who are oppressed by their governments, as if they were imprisoned.

JALAL AKEL (Palestinian Businessman): All this will have an impact on the Palestinian youth, who will be affected by the events in the Arab world. Now they can claim back their freedom the same way they see it happening in Egypt and Tunisia and hopefully soon in Libya.

DAFNA: You know, something is changing, and I don’t know but I think it will come here. It’s very difficult to believe that the whole Arab world will be in riots and Jerusalem and the West Bank are going to be quiet.

: The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics has released figures showing that in the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, there are 5.5 million Palestinians, and 5.8 million Jews. Because of their higher birth rate, the number of Palestinians is expected to equal the number of Jews in about three-and-a-half years.