The Carroll News interviewed Lior Yafe, the Israel fellow from the Cleveland Hillel Foundation, on Wednesday, Dec. 12. In the interview, Yafe responded to a CN interview with Iyad Burnat printed in its Dec. 6 issue.
Yafe, 25, began his two-year stay in Cleveland as Israel fellow in September. According to the Cleveland Jewish News, his job focuses on “empowering area Jewish students to advocate for Israel and help unaffiliated students identify more closely with the global Jewish family.” He said his job is to work with Jewish students attending Cleveland-area colleges and universities.
Here is a portion of the transcript of the interview The Carroll News conducted with Yafe:
The Carroll News: Just recently Palestine became a non-state observer in the U.N.? What do you think of that?
Lior Yafe: I have no problem with that; they can do whatever they want. But think about it: How do you want to solve a 70-year conflict in one resolution, that is not even happening in Israel, it is happening in New York? I am saying that if President Abbaas wants to have peace, he does not need to go to New York, he should come to Jerusalem. He should
shake the hands of Benjamin Netanyahu, our prime minister, and start negotiating about the real things. You know that you can’t just have peace in New York, it does not make any sense. Just come and negotiate, it is so simple. How do you want to solve either side of the resolution, it just does not make any sense. What do you think about the numbers, for example? The ones that I told you [about] 75 percent of the suicide bomb attacks came from the West Bank. He never told you about it, right? That more than 300 people were killed because of those suicide attacks.
CN: Iyad Burnat did mention to us at one point that there were Israelis that join in with the Bil’in protests. Is that accurate?
LY: Well, there are some Israelis who participate in peaceful movements, because we are a Democratic state. If someone wanted to demonstrate, not against Israel, or not against the policy, but if they want to show a respect, or a mutual respect with the Palestinians in the area. They have their full right, because we are a democratic state. We are not an apartheid state, we are not an occupied state. Everyone can do what
ever they want; we have the same set of values, the same as the United States. If someone wanted to demonstrate, they have the fundamental right. Burnat never mentioned that. It is funny, I think, that I am just opening your eyes, because it is becoming so clear that there are two different narratives to the same story.
CN: Basing off one of the questions Sam asked in the original interview, often what we see in Western media is just pictures of violence all the time related to this conflict. What is Israel actually like, because I do not quite believe that this is an accurate depiction of what life is really like, is it?
LY: Yes, I think you’re right. We have a normal, peaceful life in Israel. You can see that in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem, in the North, in Galilee, in every area in Israel. We are having the same life as you have here in the states. You are seeing Israel maybe on CNN as being attacked by the Palestinians from the Gaza Strip or from the West Bank because that is the headline. You are not going to see the innovation of Israel or that we are having the highest innovations in the world. You are not going to hear about that, you are going to hear about the attacks in Israel.
CN: President Bush and Ariel Sharon seemed to have a very good relationship. The relationship between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu has not been as positive.
LY: I am not sure about that. There is more collaborative work between the ideas of the Israeli Defense Force and the American Army than in the last 20 years. I’m not sure you need to mix the personal aspects of the two into the story; but from the country perspective, there is more collaborative work.