An Israeli father whose son was kidnapped and murdered by
Hamas, speaks out against Israelis policies and the myth of "major" concession made at Camp David.
Transcript of 'Donahue' for August 1
Guest: Jesse Jackson, Yitzhak Frankenthal, Steven Flatow,
DONAHUE: When the smoke finally settled from yesterday's explosion at
the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, seven were left dead, five of whom held
American citizenships. Here's how President Bush reacted today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm just as angry as
Israel is right now. I'm furious that innocent lives were lost. However,
through my fury, even though I am mad, I still believe peace is possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DONAHUE: Any time a parent loses a child who's barely out of their
teens, beyond grief. But it's even more tragic when the children are innocent
victims of the crossfires of war.
Jewish American Stephen Flatow is here. He lost his 20-year-old
daughter, Alisa, to a suicide bomber in 1995.
And we are joined by Yitzhak Frankenthal, an orthodox Jew from Israel.
He's on the satellite from Jerusalem. He lost his 19-year-old son when he was
kidnapped and murdered by Hamas in 1994.
Well, Mr. Frankenthal, your son was killed at age 19.
YITZHAK FRANKENTHAL, ISRAELI PEACE ACTIVIST: Yes.
DONAHUE: This is so tough to just try. I appreciate both of you being
here. You are here to honor the memory of your children, your young adult
children. May I share with our audience, Mr. Frankenthal, part of a speech
you gave just last Saturday in front of the prime minister's residence?
Here is part of what you said: "My beloved son, my own flesh and
blood, was murdered by Palestinians. My tall, blue-eyed, golden-haired son,
who was always smiling with the innocence of a child and the understanding of
an adult. My son."
"If to hit his killers, innocent Palestinian children and other
civilians would have to be killed, I would ask the security forces to wait
for another opportunity. If the security forces were to kill innocent
Palestinians as well, I would tell them they were no better than my son's
"The Palestinians cannot drive us away," you said. "They have long
acknowledged our existence. They have been ready to make peace with us. It is
we who are unwilling to make peace with them. It is we who insist on
maintaining our control over them. It is we who escalate the situation in the
region and feed the cycle of bloodshed. I regret to say, but the blame is
"I do not mean to absolve the Palestinians and by no means justify
attacks against Israeli civilians. No attack against civilians can be
Well, Mr. Frankenthal, sir, how were you received with that speech?
FRANKENTHAL: It's very difficult. I think that the situation in the
Middle East, it's worse day by day. And unfortunately, you cannot see that
it's going to stop. There is only one way to stop the hatred, by making
reconciliation and peace. There's no other way.
DONAHUE: But I would have to guess that you are-your views were not
well-received by fellow Jews.
FRANKENTHAL: I will tell you that during the last two years, of
course, most of the Israelis got completely the other view. Two years before,
most of the Israelis, the majority, they have been ready to make compromises
with the Palestinians, the same views that I got.
And unfortunately, since September 2000, the people have lost the
view. And they're thinking that we can get peace with the Palestinians. So
I'm talking with a Palestinian and we are sitting with the Palestinian. We
are over 200 Israeli parents working together, with 200 Palestinian bereaved
parents. We are working together to try to establish reconciliation.
Let's look at Mr. Flatow. Your daughter, the prime of her life,
20-year-old. You feel about her as he feels about his son. May we have your
STEPHEN FLATOW, DAUGHTER KILLED IN '95 BUS BOMBING: I'm mad at the
Palestinian parents that Yitzhak has been dealing with, who have taken to the
street. Who have let their children become the buffer between militiamen and
Israeli soldiers, who have turned their children into suicide bombers, and
who now are planting bombs in college cafeterias.
If there's going to be a change in the Palestinian-Israeli relations,
it has to start with the Palestinians. They have to stop feeding their
children a diet of hatred and unrealistic promises. If Yitzhak is correct in
his assessment, then I think he just might as well put the key under the
doormat, leave the door open and shut the lights out and go someplace else.
DONAHUE: Mr. Frankenthal?
FRANKENTHAL: Stephen is talking about the Palestinians like they need
to do steps. But unfortunately, the situation is that we are the conqueror.
We are those people got all those Palestinian cities and all those
occupation. And if we would like to see that the Palestinians will stop what
they are doing, we need to stop the occupation.
There's no way to have on one side the occupation, and from the other
side to tell the Palestinians, stop what you are doing. We need to stop the
occupation, then the Palestinians will stop what they're doing. There is no
You know, Yitzhak Rabin was not stupid. He said, I will fight against
the terror like I am not talking peace. And I will make peace like I am not
fighting the terror. Why Ariel Sharon is not doing this?
FLATOW: I'm not going to speak for Ariel Sharon, Yitzhak. You know,
you and I are both still grieving parents. But I will tell you that we cannot
allow people to blow up children on buses or in pizza parlors. We cannot
allow kidnapers to grab your son off a road and murder them.
Your son did nothing wrong. My daughter did nothing wrong. The people
at the Hebrew University yesterday did nothing wrong. And that's what has to
be stopped. And if it requires a military response by the Israeli government
to do it, then that's what must be done to eliminate these terrorists that
are in your midst.
FRANKENTHAL: Stephen, I agree with you 100 percent that our children
should have stayed alive. And there is no excuse for those suicide bombers,
and there is no excuse for these terror attacks. I agree with you 100
percent. There is no question about it.
But the question is, why those people have got such motivation, to be
suicide bombers? What pushed them? What makes 3.5 million people to be crazy?
There is only one answer, no other. The occupation.
FLATOW: I don't buy it, Yitzhak. Look, Israel did not occupy the West
Bank until 1967. The PLO was formed before then. Terrorist attacks began
before then. I'm just afraid that what we're being lulled into, if we accept
your position, is that we're going to create a state on the other side that
has nothing in their goal but to destroy the state of Israel.
DONAHUE: I regret, I cannot...
DONAHUE: You had one more thing to say.
FRANKENTHAL: You are going to the past. In the past, you are right 100
percent. It was the fighting against the Israelis and unfortunately, look
But the question is, what do you like to do? To go to the past and to
lose the future? To lose our children's lives? Now in the present, the
Palestinians are ready to make peace with us. So let's do peace.
Even the Egyptians. In the past, they didn't want to make peace. And
look what's going today with the Egyptians. Why to live in the past? Why not
to do today what we need to do?
DONAHUE: Stephen will have an opportunity to say, and then I must
FLATOW: Yitzhak, Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians everything they
wanted and more. And not only did they say no, they didn't come back with a
concrete proposal. And if you think that there's peace between Israel and
Egypt at this time, it is the coldest peace in the history of mankind.
DONAHUE: I thank you both, gentlemen, and hope we'll have a chance to
revisit with both of you. Your views are very respected.
And we'll be back with Jesse Jackson in just a moment.
DONAHUE: Stephen Flatow is with us. As you have been told, he lost his
daughter in April of 1995. She was 20 and she was killed in a bombing of a
public bus. Yitzhak Frankenthal is on the line, an orthodox Jew who lives in
Jerusalem, whose 19-year-old son, Eric, was kill by Hamas gunmen in 1994.
Reverend Jackson, sir, you're on the line from Chicago. You just got
back from the Middle East. You've heard this very painful conversation
between these two grieving fathers. Life will never be the same for them
again. What do you think, as you listened in?
REV. JESSE JACKSON, URGES NON-VIOLENCE IN MIDEAST: You know, last
night I went to the hospital in Jerusalem. I watched children lying there
with faces burned up beyond recognition, and nails shot through their bodies.
And so I'm sensitive to the pain that both of them share.
The question is, shall we engage in more retaliation, which begets
retaliation? Or shall somebody stop retaliation, move toward reconciliation
and reconstruction and negotiation? And I would hope that the going forward
of a reconciliation, and the cease-fire would be our objective.
Because if Israel responds with one more round, it will be met with
one more round. There will just be more children dead.
DONAHUE: There is, however, Mr. Flatow has got to be respected for his
anguish at the failure of the-you know, do we believe Arafat really wants to
stop these suicide bombers? Do we see the sincerity?
JACKSON: See, that might be the simplistic analysis. You know, we met
with Arafat after having met with Mr. Peres and Ben-Eliezer twice in
Jerusalem. And Arafat and his council met, make an appeal for a cease-fire,
end terror, end suicide bombers, reaching out to Hamas. Apparently, had
gotten them to agree on agree some kind of tentative cease-fire. Within four
hours, the F-16 American-made plane and the bombs dropped.
Then Hamas said, we will retaliate. And of course, they did. What
amazes me is that when they said, we will retaliate, we have not talked with
them to ask them to not retaliate.
We have not said to them, there's a way out. Let's stop it now. Let's
choose negotiation and reconciliation over more confrontation. We've taken
pride in not talking. If you don't talk, you don't act, you don't change
DONAHUE: Yes. Did you want to say briefly...
FLATOW: What I want to say is that Chairman Arafat has aggregated his
responsibility to destroy the Hamas and Islamic Jihad infrastructure that
exists under his jurisdiction.
Reverend Jackson, my daughter's killers are walking free in the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip. Why hasn't he arrested them? Why hasn't he brought
them on trial?
And according to the Oslo Accords, the Israelis demanded their
extradition to Israel. He has refused. The man is not committed to destroying
the very groups that are looking to destroy...
DONAHUE: Reverend Jackson answers Mr. Flatow's question, when we
return in just a moment.
DONAHUE: Can you wear this T-shirt to high school? Can you make fun of
the president in your high school newspaper? Two teenagers fighting for their
rights as Americans step forward on DONAHUE after the news, from MSNBC News
DONAHUE: Talking with two Jewish fathers who paid the ultimate price,
lost children to the Middle East conflict. Stephen Flatow is here. His
daughter was killed with the bus she was riding was hit by a suicide bomber.
>From Israel, Yitzhak Frankenthal, whose 19-year-old son Ara (ph) was
kidnapped and murdered by Hamas in 1994. We're also joined by the Reverend
Jesse Jackson, who just returned from a peace mission to Israel.
When we last were with you, Mr. Flatow had asked Reverend Jackson why
are his daughter's killers still out there? In other words, he is entitled to
some evidence that there is a response by the Palestinians to this kind of
JACKSON: Well, there must be a response, but the question really is
twofold here, a retaliation which will begat a retaliation, or some move back
toward the bargaining table, rather than battlefield. Now there is tank
movement to Nablus tonight, I understand for example.
DONAHUE: That is correct. Dozens of Israeli tanks have moved into
Nablus to, it is reported, remove relatives of those who have been aggressing
or creating acts of terrorism against Israelis.
JACKSON: Well, when I was there, Nablus had already been under curfew.
People have been denied their work permits. People, eight and ten living in
two rooms without electricity, some dying because they can not get the
dialysis machines to work. Some children could not take their exams to go to
And so, you have despair on the Palestinian side and in some sense of
fear on the Israeli side, but as you recycle despair and you recycle fear, we
need hope and hope is above fear and despair and that's why we need an honest
I think Israelis and Palestinians are trapped in a death grip and
neither can turn the other loose because of recycling. That's why the U.S.
should be involved to be the honest broker. If in fact a U.S. plane dropped
that bomb in the Gaza and killed innocent people: a) we should have said that
we're sorry if that's not our policy. If Hamas said we're going to retaliate,
we should try to convince them to not retaliate.
JACKSON: Again, we choose not to talk.
DONAHUE: Mr. Frankenthal, you're listening.
FRANKENTHAL: I must say a few things. Number one, if the Palestinians
will watch on their people as terrorists and not as soldiers, that will
happen only after it will be peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians
and then the matter of the daughter of Stephen Flatow, there will be rest.
But in the time being, they can not see those people who have reacted against
the Israelis, against the people here in Israel as terrorists. They are
looking at them, watching them as soldiers as a conqueror, number one.
Number two, Mr. Flatow has said that Ehud Barak gave almost everything
to Arafat, but it's not correct. It's (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It's something that
we need to understand that we the Israelis we got the red line but the
Palestinians got also a red line. So we didn't come to the red lines of the
Palestinians, but we came to the red line of the Israelis and the
Palestinians were ready to accept the red lines of the Israelis, but we
haven't been ready to accept the red lines of the Palestinians.
And number three, you know we are, as Israeli patriots, we are doing
what we are doing only because we believe that there is only one way to stop
what's going in the Middle East. It's to make reconciliation and to make
compromises, and there is only one way to achieve peace and security. There
is no other way, only this way to sit together and look Sharon, he didn't sit
even one time with Arafat, so what do you expect from Arafat?
DONAHUE: Let's give Stephen a chance here.
FRANKENTHAL: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Arafat.
DONAHUE: Yes, go ahead.
FLATOW: Yitzhak, when I hear Palestinian parents talking as eloquently
as you have just spoken about reconciliation, then I will believe there's a
chance. You're very fortunate. You live...
FRANKENTHAL: No problem. You can hear them. You can hear them all day.
FLATOW: Let them say it in Nablus. Let them say it in Ramallah. Let
them say it in Gaza. We just don't see that (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
FRANKENTHAL: We've got it taped. The Israelis we've got it taped in
the video. We can send it to you.
FLATOW: I want to see it on Al-Jazeera. I want to see it...
FRANKENTHAL: Last March it has been in the United States and they talk
to the Americans like I'm talking.
FLATOW: That's correct, and that's not Al-Jazeera and it's not the
West Bank and it's not Jordan.
FRANKENTHAL: This is the situation.
FLATOW: I understand what you're saying, Yitzhak, and I still, like I
said before, I grieve with you over your loss, but we can't leave the door
open and walk away from the country.
FRANKENTHAL: Phil, no one would like to go out of the country. It's my
country. I would like to stay here. I would like my children to stay here. I
would like you to come here to visit here whenever you go.
FLATOW: My son will be there in August.
FRANKENTHAL: It's our country.
FLATOW: My son will be there in August to study.
FRANKENTHAL: Welcome. Welcome.
DONAHUE: Yes. We certainly can not challenge Mr. Flatow's devotion and
allegiance to the State of Israel; five children, all five studying in Israel
including a son that's going upcoming.
FLATOW: In August.
DONAHUE: Well, dad...
JACKSON: Phil. Phil.
JACKSON: Phil, it seems to me that if we can step up a step above the
pain just for a moment, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) an end game, coexisting states for
Palestinians and Israelis, end the occupation, end the settlements, end the
Intifada, and bring relief to the Palestinian despair and some hope for the
Israeli fear. That's the end game.
But the U.S. is not there at the tunnel to get to the end of the game.
We take the position now; we would not talk and negotiate for the end unless
Arafat is no longer their leader. Well, democratically he was elected by them
or recognized by the Arab states, by the European Union, by the United
Nations. We can not not negotiate based upon an undemocratic recommendation.
FLATOW: Reverend Jackson.
JACKSON: The Israelis - yes.
FRANKENTHAL: You're 100 percent right.
FLATOW: Do you believe that...
FRANKENTHAL: You're 100 percent right.
FLATOW: ...the Israelis are wrong in asking for a cessation of terror
attacks before they go back to the table with the Palestinians?
JACKSON: They are right to ask for cessation of terror attacks but you
have kind of two simultaneous things. One, on the one hand the reason we
appeal so fervently to Arafat and the council, come public in Arabic and
English to be against terror attacks, against suicide bombings and ceasefire.
FLATOW: But sir, yesterday Arafat blamed Ariel Sharon for the attack.
He said "I condemn it but it's Sharon's fault."
JACKSON: But he condemned it but his point was that the extreme
repressive measures are creating a basic ration-and we must not make the
Palestinian Council and Hamas the same. When we were fighting in the South
African thing, there was Mandela and ANC. There was PAC. There were
distinctions between various groups.
Hamas is a very different group. They are philosophically opposed to
Israel's right to exist. That's a very different group. They've said that
when their leader was killed in that bombing, we're going to get you back.
What amazed me, we did not talk with the people who said they were going to
retaliate and they did. We got to talk even with our enemies if we're going
to seek some reconciliation. We must talk even with our enemies if we see
DONAHUE: Right, but you were going to meet with Hamas, were you not?
JACKSON: I was and I was going to meet with them because they said we
will retaliate. We wanted to convince them to choose negotiation over
retaliation, to join a ceasefire and give peace a chance, because war had
JACKSON: But when the bomb blew up we chose to go the hospital to
visit the injured children and the dead instead.
DONAHUE: Yes. Mr. Flatow, the suggestion is that your understandable
response will just lead a spiral down, down, down, more deaths, more young
people, and I guess what Yitzhak and what Reverend Jackson are trying to do
is stop that cycle and see if we can't in the memory of your daughter and all
those who died reach some kind of cooling off period where peace will have a
FLATOW: The United States is waging a war of terror at the present
time. The State of Israel should not be held to a double standard when it
comes to their fight to survive.
DONAHUE: Let me get you one more time, Mr. Frankenthal, give you an
opportunity to make your point. You've been listening in. What would you want
to say before we break here?
FRANKENTHAL: I would like to say that there is only one way to stop
the hatred and to stop the bloodshed and to stop the terror and both side
terror. It's not only the Palestinian terror. It's also from the Israeli side
unfortunately, I must say it, because if you are conquered, you can not
accept those people to live under the occupation and to be ready to lose
2,000 people of them since September, over 2,000 people of them since
September, 2000, and to ask them to be a good people and to be ready to pay
more and more price because we are conqueror. Now there is only one way to
stop it, sit together and make reconciliation, make compromise and make
peace. This is the only way.
DONAHUE: Reverend Jackson, I'll throw you a short pass here before we
break. Iraq's foreign minister has sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan asking that Chief Inspector Hans Blix (ph) a U.N. weapons expert
come to Baghdad at the earliest agreed upon time. Did you know about that?
JACKSON: I did not but it's a step in the right direction. To attack
Iraq is to further destabilize the region. I hope that in that case
containment and negotiation prevails over some isolationist preemptive
strike. That's hopefully a breath of fresh air.
DONAHUE: OK, let's understand these latest developments now, Israeli
tanks rolling into Nablus reportedly to seek out the relatives of those who
have been killing Israelis, and also we have Iraq apparently saying U.N.
inspectors, come in, we'll talk. Well, these are hardly small issues but we
have to wait to see.
JACKSON: Phil, one of my concerns now is that the U.S. has become the
new theater for this war. It's not just the Israeli-Palestinian war. We're so
invested in the area financially and militarily, now we're becoming the
object of the vilification, so we have a national interest at reconciliation
and reconstruction and negotiation. America's absence in this debate between
these two pained fathers is what's troubling to me. Our absence in this, in
the center of this debate, is a void that must be filled in a meaningful way
and early on.
DONAHUE: We thank you all very much for this contribution to a dialog
that we hope will at least make a small step forward toward what we all want
and that is safety for our children in everybody's neighborhood.