Dr. Nasser Gadban - dentist

"They* don't want to make democracy in the Arab countries. They don't want! It is not fair. They just keep the people that keep the interests of the United States without thinking in anything of democracy or in any kind of good life for the people."


Nasser Gadban
Pt. 1

12:30 minutes
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Nasser Gadban
Pt. 2

6:04 minutes
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Nasser Gadban
Pt. 3

7:24 minutes
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When the kibbutz lost its dentist, Dr. Gadban started keeping part-time office hours there (where Ora is hygenist and office manager). She also works with Nasser in his other office (I think in Naharia). We visited Dr. and Mrs. Gadban at their home in Mazra, an Arab village down the aqueduct toward Acco.

The conversation ranged from the history of the village to the conflict and possible solutions, and also to the role of the US in the region.

Transcription (edited) of video clips: Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3

Part 1 - Before I turned the camera on, we started discussing the village, which was formed in 1948 by refugees from five neighboring villages who fled or were forced out by Israelis.

Peter: So is that all long in the past and forgotten? Or do the people here, the 3,000, do they think they are refugees from their land and do they still feel like their land was taken away from them and they resent it, or what would you say about that?

Nasser: You know maybe this relation between the land and between the citizens it is maybe something everyone, of course, he would like to have this land back. Everyone. But the question is, is it possible. Maybe they are convinced that they cannot get it back. If you ask them if they would like to have it, of course they'd like to have it back. Of course. Everyone.

For example, as I told you, my father and my father's family has about 30 dunam (land registered in their name in the Turkish registry). We have the Turkish documents. The title of the land is still written in my grandfather's name from the Turkish period.

Peter: But this is the same land that a kibbutz is on now. And do people hope to go to court and get it back?

Nasser: I know a lot of people who changed these lands a lot of years ago. When they change it the Israel state gave them one donum for one donum. That means every donum lost, they got in another part another donum. But now if you like to change it (I mean for the past 25 years, if you want to change this land with other land where you live now, they just give you 500 dollars for the one donum. It's better for you not to change anything.

Peter: Because you won't get full value.

Nasser: You know I want to tell you something. We are Israelian and at the same time we are Palestinian. We cannot deny. But first we are Israelian, because we live in Israel. And it is a little bit different between the people who live here and the people who live in the occupation on the other side. It is very big difference between us. Here we are fighting for equality, the same as other Israelian citizens. As the Jewish citizen in Israel. This is our hopes. But that doesn't mean that we are two people. The Palestinians here, we cannot make two parts of Palestinian people. Let me explain it to you what the resolution of the Palestinian program (will be). We want (a solution) as quickly as possible ...

Peter: ...because many people here must have relatives in the West Bank or in Lebanon or something.

Srul: The Israeli Arabs, a lot of them, identify themselves as Israeli citizens and they feel their struggle for equality means that they want to better their life but they want to remain in Israel. So there is a difference between the Israeli Arabs and the Arabs who are living in the West Bank or in the Gaza area. But it's impossible to ignore the fact, first of all on a humanitarian level. These are another people. They're also relatives or from the same people, from the same nation. To see the suffering that their fellow Palestinians are living through motivates them. They want the problem solved as soon as possible.

The feelings that the Israeli Arabs have right now is that they're suffering from collective punishment. Whatever is happening. Say there is an attack. At Hebron or Kibbutz Metzner or some other place, Arabs from this village fear going to Naharia. And if they go they'll be embarrassed to talk in Arabic.

Peter: So you feel like a second class citizen, as we would say in the United States. What do you need to be an equal citizen in Israel today? What changes have to happen in Israel before you will not be a second class citizen?

Nasser: You know if you go to any official places. Let me tell you an example. I hope that one time, my passport, they will not write there that I am Arabic. I'm Israeli. Yes? Why to do that? I hope one time to be written there that I'm Israeli, and not Arabic. Or not that I'm a Muslim. I want to be equal with all the other citizens.

Srul: This is a problem with a lot of Jews in Israel, also. It's on your passport, it's on your identity card, the question of religion. There are a lot of Jews also saying 'I don't have a religion.' But it's more of a problem for the Arabs or for anybody who isn't Jewish.

Nasser: I'm speaking of discrimination. But, you must know that the main problem must be resolved first.

Peter: And what is that?

Nasser: To be here, two states - Israeli and Palestinian, one beside the other. This must be resolve first. And if it would be resolved, I really will feel that the first and the only problem (that will remain) is the discrimination inside. Because you feel all the time the people suffer every day. And the patience still continue to be. It just makes a very bad feeling. Something must be done. And after that, equal opportunity to work.

Part 2

Srul: I want to ask you, your cousins in Lebanon were refugees; would they settle for a solution that did not include them coming back to here but maybe settling in the West Bank?

Srul (paraphrasing and translating): The hardest problem that needs to be solved, let's say there's a mainstream, including Arik Sharon, that has accepted the fact that the solution to the problem is that (two states)., he's on record already.and I personally believe that the division of Jerusalem, which is going to be part of it, both sides will accept it. The biggest problem is the return of refugees.

Srul and Nasser talk in Hebrew.

Srul: Okay, ya know, what we were talking about. He says, let's say, there's a problem, you know, we have to be practical, we have to differentiate from what we want and what we can achieve. We meaning all of us who are involved in this conflict. And he mentioned the fact that there were 300,000, we were debating exactly what the number is, we're using 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, and there are 300,000 refugees in the camps in Lebanon. We take the settlers back into Israel and there's new homes for the refugees it solves one problem. Again this is something that is easy to solve on paper. It's very hard. Both sides. The settlers won't agree.

Ora: The settlers should never have been allowed to settle there.

Srul: The settlers won't agree so easily. And the refugees might not, I asked him, the refugees might feel the same way. That might not be a good enough solution for them to move from Lebanon to the West Bank from here. To which he said if they are given a choice of living as refugees in a country that doesn't want them, like Lebanon, or living as free citizens in the West Bank...

The important thing, like I was saying earlier, is to disarm the extremists, who right now, since nobody has any hope, nobody sees a good solution for himself, and it's very easy to act like in despair. I think it would be harder to solve these refugee problems than any other problems.

Peter: The right of return would never be granted.

Srul: I really don't think so.

Mrs. Gadban comes with a special treat.

Nasser: This is a kind of sweet bread. We make it just on Ramadan. When Ramadan is finished, we finish with this. It is made with cheese and other things.

Peter: What is the name of this?

Nasser: Atayaf.

Part 3

Peter: A number of people I've spoken to say this is the worst time for Israel that has ever been. Do you think so?

Nasser: Yes. It is a very bad time. You know, you cannot, how can I say it? We are tired. We are tired. We are tired from the killings, we are tired from the occupations, we are tired from everything. We just want it to be resolved. And we don't. the very bad thing that we see, is that the politics of the America, the United States... I think that if they wanted, they could do everything here.

Peter: The United States?

Nasser: Yes.

Peter: They could solve it.

Nasser: I think that they could solve it. They are always just.

Srul: What he was saying is that the United States could solve the problem, but the problem is it is identified too closely with Israel. Seen as one sided. And the United States also has the sheiks and the Emirates, and all, the Arabian peninsula, America is connected with for their oil interests. America could better the lives of the majority of Arabs by not supporting these particular sultans.

He's saying America would teach the world about democracy but it allies itself with the despots.

Nasser: They don't want to make democracy in the Arab countries. They don't want! It is not fair. They just keep the people that keep the interests of the United States without thinking in anything of democracy or in any kind of good life for the people.

Srul: I agree with you, but I think America cannot enforce democracy outside of America. It can do more than it's doing, but it's a problem.

Nasser: We are very nervous.

Ora: They're angry. They're angry, they're uncomfortable, and they're frustrated.

Nasser: We are very angry about these politics. The American, the United States politics. We just feel that they want to tell us 'you are the Arabs just with Jews you can do what we want from you.' Just with this. This cannot continue all the time. How many times you can force somebody? How many times? You teach democracy. Make democracy in our country. And you can't do that. We are speaking about Osama Bin Laden . Osama Bin Laden he is for me, you know, I am anti-religion people. I cannot support those people. Because I have a style of life. There is a very big difference between me and between my style. How I want to live and those people, the religion people. But who made them? Who created him? The U.S. They created him.

And what Osama Bin Laden did at the World Trade Center, we don't agree with that. It is not acceptable at all. But we ask ourselves, who is this man. We don't know him from before.

Peter: You didn't vote for Bin Laden, did you?

Nasser: Really.

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Copyright 2003-2009 Peter Rashkin. Material under other bylines is copyright by the authors. All rights reserved.