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This Muslim Israeli Woman Is the Future of the Middle East

2024-02-20 (300)

Lucy Aharish is one of the most prominent television broadcasters in Israel. But that’s not the thing that makes her exceptional. The thing that makes Lucy stand out is that she is the first Arab Muslim news presenter on mainstream, Hebrew-language Israeli television.

Born and raised in a small Jewish town in Israel’s Negev desert as one of the only Arab Muslim families there, Lucy often says that she sees herself as sitting on a fence. By that she doesn’t mean she’s unwilling to take a side—as you’ll see, she is a woman of strong convictions, bravery, and moral backbone. What she means is that she has a unique lens through which to view the divisions in Israeli society, the complexity of the country’s national identity, and the Middle East more generally.

That complexity was on display in 2018 when Lucy’s marriage to a Jewish Israeli actor (Tsahi Halevi of Fauda fame) sparked a nasty backlash from the country’s religious far-right.

Lucy has long been a vocal critic of those peripheral far-right voices—the ones who are inclined to oppose her marriage. She’s also long been critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But she is equally critical of her fellow Arab Israelis, particularly of Arab violence and of the Arab leadership that she says condones it.

An Arab. A proud Israeli. A Muslim married to a Jew. In short, Lucy Aharish is an iconoclast.

I sat down with Lucy recently in Tel Aviv. We talked about the October 7 massacre and its impact on the country and her family—her husband put on his uniform and headed to the south within hours of Hamas’s invasion of the country. Left alone with her son, she contemplated “hiding him in the washing machine,” should terrorists arrive at her doorstep.

Lucy also talked about the challenges she faced growing up as the only Arab Muslim kid in a traditional Jewish village, and how she was bullied for that but doesn’t view herself as a victim. We talked about the terrorist attack that she survived in Gaza as a child, which makes October 7 all the more personal to her. We discussed why she believes that Israelis and Arabs share the same destiny, the hope that she has for her Muslim-Jewish son, and the future of the country she loves—and calls home.

I’ve been very lucky in my career: I’ve done many interviews that have stayed with me. But this might be the most moving of all.

By Bari Weiss

February 12, 2024


Video Transcription:

When I came

and started working on Channel

Ten, 15 years ago,

one of the anchors

there told me,

“Wow, Lucy, you are Arab,

you are Muslim, you are a woman,

you are coming from the periphery

of Israel.

It’s like all the ‘don’t

do’ in one person.

It’s like the only

thing that is left

is that you will be a lesbian.

And that’s it.

It’s like you will break

every glass ceiling.”

Lucy Aharish

is one of the most prominent

television broadcasters in Israel.

Then again, it’s Israel.

It’s a small country

and there aren’t a ton

of famous broadcasters.

The thing that makes Lucy stand out

is that she is the first Arab

Muslim news presenter

on mainstream Hebrew-language

Israeli television.

Born and raised

in a small Jewish town in Israel’s

Negev Desert

as one of the only Arab

Muslim families.

Lucy often says

that she sees herself

as sitting on a fence.

By that,

she doesn’t mean

that she’s unwilling

to take a side.

As you’ll see,

she is a woman of strong

convictions and moral backbone.

What she means is

that she has a unique vantage


through which to view the divisions

in Israeli society,

the complexity of the country’s

national identity,

and the Middle East more generally.

That complexity was put

on display in 2018

when Lucy’s

marriage to Jewish Israeli actor

and “Fauda” star

Tsahi Halevi sparked

tremendous backlash

from the country’s

religious far-right.

Lucy’s long

been a vocal critic

of Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu.

In 2020, immediately

following her participation

in an online rally

protesting Bibi’s

handling of the coronavirus


state-run broadcaster KAN fired

Lucy from her role.

The network chalked up her firing

to pandemic-related cutbacks.

Lucy’s also been equally critical

of her fellow Israeli Arabs,

particularly of Arab violence

and of Arab leadership

that she says condones it.

A Muslim and a Zionist; an Arab

and an Israeli.

In short,

Lucy Aharish is an iconoclast.

I sat down recently

with Lucy in Tel Aviv.

We talked about the massacre

of October

7 and its impact on the country

and on her family.

Her husband put on his uniform

and headed to the south

within hours of hearing the news.

We also talked about the challenges

she faced growing up

as the only Muslim Arab kid

in a traditional Jewish village.

We talked about

the terrorist attack

that she survived in Gaza,

and about the hope that she has

for her Muslim-Jewish son

and the future of the country

that she calls home.

You’re Arab Israeli.

Many people

would probably think of that

as an oxymoron.

They’ve never sat

where we’re sitting right now.

But in that, you represent

20 percent

of the Israeli population

as Israeli Arab.

I don’t

know if I represent like 20 percent

because a lot of people

will tell you, well,

she doesn’t represent us.

And you’re—they say you’re—

You know,

I don’t pretend to

represent anyone.

I represent myself

because I have a unique story.

I didn’t live—I haven’t

lived in an Arab town

or an Arab village.


my parents moved to Dimona,

which is a very small town

in the south of Israel.

So basically,

I lived in a Jewish town,

you can say

a semi-traditional Jewish town.

And when you say “traditional,”

for an American listener, viewer,

what does that mean, traditional?

It means that it’s small.

It’s in the periphery of Israel.

It’s more, let’s say “masorti,”

we say in Hebrew,

which is

half religious, half secular,

it’s more right-wing.

I’ve lived

above the Likud Center in Dimona,

so you’re talking about oxymoron.

And yeah, it’s been quite a ride.

Like to to grow up

as the only Arab family

living in Dimona,

being the only Arab student

in school

and a Muslim student

in the nineties where Israel knew

the worst terror attacks

in its history before October 7.

And it wasn’t easy.

But it is my home,

like Dimona will always be my home.

My parents are still living there.

And I grew up in a

Jewish traditional atmosphere.

I celebrated Jewish holidays

next to my Arab Muslim holidays,

being Israeli, Jewish, Arab,

like Jewish,

you know, living in a Jewish

culture or education was like—it’s

something that was totally

connected to my life.

I didn’t choose it.

It’s like my parents, my

parents’ decision.

But for

me, I’m, you know,

not only honored, but I got a gift.

And the gift was the fact

that I lived with Jewish people

all my life.

And yes,

I experienced racism and yes,

I was bullied in school,

especially after terror attacks.

But most of the times it was,

for me, it’s

the best time of my life

because it’s my home.

And as

you know,

every child is going through

some tough times.

So you have the fat child

and you have the child

with the glasses

and you have the kid with,

you know, braces on his teeth.

And I was the Arab Muslim girl.

And what were the kind of—I

mean, you’ve said it wasn’t easy.

You’ve said

before that

terrible things were said to you.

Give us a sense of,

you know,

the kind of things that were said.

And then when you would go back

and presumably

tell your parents about it,

how would they respond?

I remember

that—I think

that the most difficult times

were after a terror attack.

The morning of a terror

attack was like the mornings

that I didn’t want to go to school.

And I remember every morning

saying to my parents,

“I don’t want to go to school,”

because I knew what I’m going to

go through that day.

And, you know, the day after

a terror attack, you usually are

not only sad, but you’re angry.

You have a lot of

feelings of revenge.

And you need revenge

because you cannot understand

or digest or accept

the fact that there is someone

who is putting, you know,

going on a bus

and exploding himself

in front of innocent people

and killing innocent people,

men, women, children.

You cannot digest it.

You cannot accept it,

not even in the name of occupation.

So I remember every morning—it

was almost twice a week,

I think, once a week

back then.

And I remember that mornings

where I told my mom and dad,

“I don’t want to go to school.”

And my mom and dad would tell me,

my dad will take me in the car

and put me in front of the,

in front of the school gate.

And he would tell me,

“You will get out right now

from the car

and you will face your friends

and you will face reality.

Because if you won’t

be able to face reality now,

you won’t be able to

face it in the future.”

And I would get in.

Well, what’d they say?

Would they say that

you’re a terrorist?

They will see me

and then I will see all my friends

like, you know,

saying “death to Arabs.

We need to kill

all the Palestinians.

Filthy Arabs.”

And then they will look at me

and they will tell me,

“Well, Lucy, we don’t mean you.

You know,

you and your family are okay.

But the rest of the Palestinians,

the Arabs, we need to kill them.

We need to murder them all.”


I can understand that.

But like—I

tried to understand that, but

I was bullied

and I would get back to school,

like, get back from school

and get back home.

And I would

cry my eyes out

and my father will tell me “If

I will ever,

ever hear you say

to somebody

who called you ‘filthy Arab’

or ‘filthy Muslim’

that you called him ‘filthy Jew,’

I never in my life

like, raised my hand and hit you.

But I will do that

if I will

hear you saying to

someone, ‘filthy Jew.’

You will never

go down to this level

because you’re better

than them.” Lucy,

we live in a—Israel’s a

very different context

from the States.

But in the States, you could say

we live in a culture of grievances,

where people sort of hoard

their victimhood.

You have said

many times in many interviews

that you don’t

think of yourself as a victim.

No, I’m not.

Most people would hear

these stories and be like,

“this is the ultimate victim.

Listen to what she’s describing.”

Why don’t

you think of yourself that way?

Because I’m not a victim and I’m

not willing to be a victim

of racism.

I am not a victim of

a racist government.

I’m not a victim

of—at a certain time,

a certain time

when the prime minister is going

and saying

on elections in 2015

that the Arabs

are going on buses to vote

and this is a danger

to the rule of the right,

this is a danger to Israel.

Me being

a citizen of the state of Israel,

I am not,

you know, a visitor

in the state of Israel.

I’m a citizen

of the state of Israel.

The state of Israel at 1948

decided that it’s

giving citizenship to the 150,000

Arabs that were living here.

Once you decided that you’re

giving me

the citizenship of this state,

you need to treat me like

anyone else.

I’m not your slave.

You’re not doing me a favor.

It’s not that—it’s so complicated,

what is happening here,


the Palestinian—Israeli-Palestinian


is directly affecting

the Israeli-Arab


Well, it’s strengthening it.

I mean, there was a poll

before the war asking Israeli Arabs

if they felt a part of Israel.

I think 48 percent said yes.

And then postwar, same poll,

something like 75, 77 percent,

think that’s representative.

I think that it’s representative

because for the first time, October

7 proved

that we share the same destiny


Arabs and Jews are living

in Israel.

Citizens of the state of Israel

share the same destiny,

and you had the living proof

for it.

A living proof

provided by Hamas terrorists

when they got in

and they filmed themselves

killing and murdering and raping

and burning innocent people,

that they caught a guy

from Jerusalem,

East Jerusalem, he’s

telling them, “I’m

from Jerusalem, I’m

from East Jerusalem,”

and they told him,

“Oh, you’re cooperating,

cooperating with Israel,”

and they killed him.

They just shot him to death.

So it’s got nothing to do with,

you know,

if I will say, [speaking Arabic]

they will save me. No.

They will spare my life.

No, it doesn’t work like that.

Growing up

as little Lucy in Dimona,

the only Arab in your class,

did you have any sense

of what you wanted to be

when you grew up?

An actress.


so you got the next best thing,

I guess,

which is being a television

journalist. You know, a journalist.

I knew that

I have a totally different story.

I knew that

I’m living in Dimona.

I’m a Muslim from a Muslim family.

I went through a terror attack

in the First Intifada

when I was five

and a half years old,

in the Gaza Strip

on a Saturday morning.

Tell me about that,

because right now, the idea

of an Israeli citizen going

anywhere near

Gaza—well, obviously right now,

but since 2005,

would have been unthinkable.

Back then,

it was a

totally different situation.

It was a totally

different situation.

We used to go to the Gaza Strip to,

you know, to do some shopping

there, like,

you know, buy

groceries and shop and

eat fish on the beach.

It was like—there

were a lot of Israelis

getting into the Gaza Strip.

And I remember

it was a Saturday morning

and my uncle and his wife

came to visit us

with their two children.

They came to visit us and

my uncle said to my dad,

“What do you think?

Let’s take a trip

to the Gaza Strip.”

And my father told him “Listen.”

And I understand it was 1987.

It was the beginning of the

Intifada, the First Intifada,

really the beginning.

And my father told him, “Well,

I understood that

the security situation

is not that good.

Let’s postpone it.”

And to make a long story short,

we decided that we’re

hitting the road.

It was me, my mom, my dad,

my uncle,

his wife, and one of his children.

I always say that

a lot of people in one car—have

this tendency, Arabs,

to squeeze into cars.

It’s like another one is coming

out of the car

like grandmas in a bogash.

And you know the word “karma,”

where, like, everything shows you

that you are

not supposed to be in that place

that day.

So we went to the grocery shop

and the grocery shop was closed,

and then we went to the beach

and the guy that sold

my mom fish was sick that day.

And then

we took a trip to Nasser Street

where there was a shop there,

Un Bambino.

It was a clothes shop

for children, clothes and

like some perfumes and stuff.

And we just parked the car

and the owner of the shop

was just about to leave

and to close shop,

and my father’s

telling him, “What’s going on?

Everything is closed.

Nobody’s on the streets.”

And he told my father, “Well,

you know,

security situation lately

is not that good.

And the young people here

are talking about Intifada.

But you know what?

You made it

all the way from Dimona.

I will open the shop for you.”

And I remember every time

that I got


I would ask my mom for one thing.

I would ask my mom, “Mom,

I want red nail polish.”

And she’d tell me—ed, yes.

And she will tell me no,

because it’s

like, in Arabic, it’s

not respectful

to put a red nail polish

for a small child, small girl.

And I’d try my—and

I try my luck again.

And I asked her again,

“Mom, can I have red nail polish?”

And without even thinking,

she told me, “You know,

and just take it.”


I grabbed it and put it in a small

brown bag,

and I went outside

so my mom won’t change her mind.

They went back to the car

and we sat down.

And just when we were

about to leave,

the owner of the shop, just

got close and said to my dad,

“Just do me a favor.

Until you’re leaving Gaza,

just make sure that your

windows are closed.” And

my dad’s looking

and told him, “What

are you talking about?”

What he told my dad is like,

we are really “white.”

Like, Dad is blond.

That is the word he used?

Yeah, no, no, no,

he told him, “You look Jewish.”

Like, he told him

because my father is blond

with blue eyes.

My uncle also is with green eyes.

His wife is with blue eyes.

So we

didn’t look like typical Arabs.

So my father—“Well,

what do you?—“Well,

put the Quran, put

a newspaper in Arabic

on the dashboard

so people will know

that you are an Arab.

And my father told him,

“What?” “No.

You need to understand.

You have a yellow license plate.

People might confuse

you with being Jewish.”

And my father, I looked at him

and he told him,

“Tawakalt Ala Allah.”

Leave it to God.

And we hit the road and we just

were, I think it was in, in

one of the main streets

there, Salaheddin,

if I’m not mistaken.

And we really hit traffic.

So the cars stopped.

And it was a hot, like,

Saturday morning,

so my father opened the window.

And everybody was,

you know,

laughing and joking in the car.

And I was sitting right

next to the window,

and I started looking outside

and I saw this figure

coming towards the car.

He was really tall.

He was thin.

He had some scars on his face.

He had a necklace on his neck

and written on it a law: God.

And something about him just

fascinated me

and I couldn’t

take my eyes off him.

You’re five years old.

Yeah, five and a half years

old, was just before

I went to, like, the first grade.

I remember watching him,

but I saw something in his hand, so

I was, like, a little bit scared.

So I started, like,

scrolling down my seat

and I was looking like that.

And I was watching him

getting closer

and closer to the car.

And my mom is watching me

going like that.

And she told me,

“Lucy, sit straight.”

And I didn’t even look at her.

I just continued watching

outside the window,

looking at him getting closer

and closer to the car.

And my mom again:

“Lucy, sit straight.”

And the third time that my mom—it

got—he like, really, really

was next to the car.

He looked me straight in the eyes.

And the third time that my

mom said “Lucy,”

there was a huge

explosion in the car.

The next thing that I remember was

my face hitting the ground.

I was trying to lift myself up.

I looked at one side.

I saw my mom crying.

I looked at the other side.

I saw my uncle’s

wife screaming to death.

And I looked up and I saw my cousin

going into flames.

And my father’s

trying to put down the fire.

And at that moment

I said to myself,

Where is my red nail polish?

I was trying

to disconnect myself, from this,


everything that I saw,

from the screaming

of my father, “Help us.

We are Arabs like you.

Help us.” Nobody reached out.

Nobody helped us.

Everybody were watching it

like it’s a really

bad action movie.

I think it was after

20 minutes that

there was like

some army forces got in

and took us out.

My cousin went through a lot of—a

lot of surgeries

and me, for me, for a long time,

I hated Palestinians.

And I said it out loud.

I hate Palestinians.

You need to kill them.

You need to murder them all.

And I remember at a certain point,

my extended family

heard me saying it, and they said

to my dad, “Well, she hates us.

She hates herself.

She hates who she is.

She hates who we are.”

And my father, my very,

very clever, wise dad

told them, “Well, she will grow up.

She will understand

that life is a little bit more

complicated than she thinks.”

And he was right.

He was right.


were much more complicated.

And it’s not black and white.

This is why it was important for me

on October 7 to speak out,

because it was personal.

And I saw the evil

in the terrorist’s eyes.

I saw him

looking directly into my eyes

before even—like

when he saw a five-year-old

and a three-year-old,

and he saw a

pair of parents sitting in a car,

and he knew that he’s

going to burn them alive.

He knew,

and he did it

without even thinking.

So this evil that we saw

on October 7,

it’s not something new.

It’s not, you know, just

what happened on October 7.


it was there.

Now, there are a lot of things

that got in throughout the years.

But it was there.

You first came on my radar

when you became

the first Arab-Israeli Muslim

broadcaster in the country.

And I was like, that’s cool.

It’s like, who is that woman?

That’s really interesting.

And then you sort of exploded,

at least in certain

circles in the U.S.

when you got married to—well,

why don’t you tell me exactly?

Tsahi Halevi. Yeah. Yeah.

Tell me about that marriage

and tell me about

why that caused such a stir

in this country

and maybe the

distinction between the

public response to it

and the response of your family,

which I’m curious about too.

Wow. The response of my family.

Well, we were really,

really worried

about the response of our families.

It wasn’t only my family;

it was our families.

Tsahi is also

divorced with a—he

was like a teenager back then.

Now he is 20 years old.

And we were worried


you know—we know where we live.

It’s not that common

that there is an Arab Muslim

woman marrying a Jewish guy.

And when

they are both very well-known, it’s

a high-profile relationship.

So for a long time,

we decided that

we were keeping it secret.

It was secret for around four

and a half years.

It’s an odd thing to have a

closeted straight relationship

in the mid-2010.

And I will tell you that

first of all, you

know, it’s a small country.

So to keep it

like a

small country, small, you know,

small media,

and yet we were able to save it

like for four and a half years.

I remember that

when we got married,

it was like—the media knew.

All the

journalists knew.

And we

always got phone calls saying,

“We know about your relationship.

So we’re here.”

And I tried to explain to them,

to tell them, “Listen,

this is not a normal relationship.

There is a teenager

in the midst of it.

Our families, they don’t know.”

It’s like—it was a secret.

It was a huge blast in Israel

because it was a secret

until the day of the wedding.


my—I said to Tsahi, I said, “Well,

do you want to say something?”

And like

maybe a week before or two weeks,

I don’t know.

You know,

we are going like—it’s

going for an explosion.

At least

let me control the explosion.

I know that it’s going to explode,

but at least when it will explode,

I want it to be a very clear fact.

We are married.

It’s not that

we will get married

in one month or two weeks,

and then I will have to answer

a million questions

about the relationship

and to have discussions on TV

and radio

whether this is—there should be

this relationship

is a suitable relationship

for politicians or people

living in Israel.

No, I want

when I—when we will

announce our marriage.

It will be a fact.

A fact in the face

of all the people

who have something to say

about this marriage.

What did people say?

What they did—.

Just to be clear,

we’re talking about a Jewish


actor who’s in the show Fauda Yeah.


And he was an ex-military officer

in an

elite unit, undercover elite unit.

So like actually Fauda.


And his father

was a veteran of the Mossad.

So it was like I felt like,

you know,

if you would have asked me like

20 years,

you will marry a Jewish man

who is an undercover officer

in an elite unit,

and his father

is working in the Mossad,

I will tell you [scoffs]

it’s just like,


this is a non-realistic movie

and yet this is my reality.

But you know, all these titles that

people are

giving, he’s like this

and he’s like that,

and his father’s like this.

I fell in love

with [speaking arabic].

I fell in love with a man.

I’m always saying that

if I was right now

living in the United States,

I would be a nonissue.


I would be a persona

that is really not interesting.

A regular, totally regular story.

And it was funny for me

that people—like

it opened the Knesset

the morning after, like the Knesset

meeting, the parliament meeting,

the day after.

About your marriage.


It’s like an issue

of national security. Yeah.

I was surprised.

Like Knesset members reacted,

like said that it’s a problem

that this assimilation

and what they are,

what is the example

that they’re giving people?

One of the Knesset members

even posted on Facebook

that Tsahi took Fauda

one step too forward

and he needs to think, to

rethink his actions

and go back to the Jewish people.

You’ve been in the papers

a lot recently,

including a big profile

in a major Israeli paper for,

well, frankly, for echoes

of what you experienced

as a child, you could argue.

Tell us about what happened.

I was invited to speak out

last May in Megiddo.

What’s Megiddo?

Megiddo is a, like, small area

in the center-north of Israel.

In Shavuot, the eve of Shavuot.

It’s a big holiday

where Jews tend to study

all night long. Exactly.

Getting the Torah. Yeah.

They maybe bring in

lots of speakers.

So they brought me as a speaker,

not to speak Torah.

I feel like—

You know, to speak about my life.

I wasn’t like playing it

as a rabbi, coming

to speak to the Jewish people

and give a message

to the Jewish people.

I came and gave a lecture

about my life.

I spoke about my life,

about the mutual life that I have,

the coexistence that I’m living.

That’s it.

It was an amazing evening.

We really was—we

all, like, felt connected

and really

it was an emotional evening.

I got the money they paid me

and that’s it.

Two weeks before, like

two weeks ago,

I just step out of

the bathroom

from the shower,

and I look at my phone

and I have, like, these

tons of messages

telling me, like, sending me

an article in the whole

not telling me—sorry

for my language—

“What is this shit?

What is this?”

Apparently, the Education

Ministry of Israel

prevented the money from Megiddo,

decided not to pay Megiddo

because they brought me,

a woman

who symbolizes assimilation,

who represents

assimilation, cannot speak

about Jewish culture.

So you cannot bring her to speak

about a Jewish culture

in the eve of Shavuot.

And this is why we’re

not giving you the money.

This letter

came out from the Ministry

of Education

of the official state of Israel,

which means that the official state

of Israel

is basically looking at me

and telling me I’m racist

and I’m not ashamed of it.

You know, back then,

some people—people were

a little bit

ashamed with their racism.


No shame whatsoever.

So Lucy,

there are people,

as you know, all over the world

who look at Israel

and say

it is a racist, colonialist,

apartheid state.

It is no better than the Jim Crow

South in America

before the civil rights movement.

And the kind of thing

that just happened to you

is proof of that.

What do you say to that?

Look at your countries.

Look at what is happening

in your countries right now.

What I’m going through right now

is pure racism, definitely.


No. Look at me.

It cannot work.

I’m not like—I’m a presenter

on a mainstream TV

channel in Israel.

It’s like—no.

My sister is working in one of the

big banks

in, one of the major

banks in Israel.

My other sister is a VP, is

the general manager

of a big hotel in Eilat.

This is not an apartheid country.



there is a lot of racism

towards Arabs,

like every country is dealing

with racism,

and racism should be fought.

I should fight it,

and I’m going to fight it.

My child

won’t study in the Education

Ministry of the state of Israel

when this education ministry

is basically telling him,

you don’t have a place here,

and we’re telling you this.

It won’t happen.

And if I need

to sue the

Ministry of Education of Israel,

I will do it. You’re gonna do that?

Yes. Yes.

Because for me,

this is the red line.

You could also

look at what just happened

to you and say

encapsulated in that story

is the fundamental tension

of the identity

of the state itself.

It is a Jewish state

and it is a democratic state,

and many people look at that

as a paradox at best.

Other people look at that and say,

those things are on

a collision course

and they can never be reconciled.

What’s your view of it?

And I will tell you

something like that.

This country

has to be Jewish and democratic.


Because the Jewish people

have no other option

than to be democratic

because of their history,

because they were persecuted,

because they

went through the Holocaust,

because six million of them

were murdered

because they were Jewish,

because all the persecution,

because of antisemitism.

As a Jewish man or woman,

you cannot allow yourself

to be

something else than Democratic.

So for me,

this state,

it’s a natural thing

that it will be

Jewish and democratic.

And if there are some certain parts

or extremists in Israel

that use democracy,

use the Israeli democracy

to hurt the Israeli democracy

and to make it

some kind of a messianic

I don’t know what,

I’m going to find them.

If you want to call me

the gatekeeper

of the Israeli democracy

and the Jewish people,

I have no problem with that.

I’m the gatekeeper.

I’m going to be the person

that is going to remind

a lot of Jewish people

and the Jewish people

that it was not such a long ago

that the state of

Israel didn’t exist

and the Jewish people

almost didn’t exist.

This state is a miracle

on every parameter.

It’s a miracle.

Seventy-five years.

That’s it.

There are some grandparents

that are older than this country.


being a democracy,

you know, it’s

like—it’s baby steps.

We are in our baby

steps, like

this country

is just starting to walk.

Where were you on

the morning of the day

that changed everything

about this country

and maybe the world.

I was at home sleeping in my bed.

Tel Aviv

is 10 minutes away from here.

I heard

the sirens at 6:30 in the morning.

I, like,

called Tsahi and I told him

there are sirens.

He told me you’re not.

. .

you’re dreaming.

I told him no, not dreaming,

there are sirens.

We grabbed Adam, our son,

and we went to the safe room.

And I started looking at my phone

to understand what is happening.

Because, you know,

we have these WhatsApp

group—WhatsApp groups

in our channel.

So I started looking for


like—throughout the night,

maybe something happened, maybe,

so, I don’t know, we attacked Gaza,

I don’t know. I’m just—and nothing.

Everybody in

this group were asking,

“What is happening?

What, what is happening?

What is happening?

What is happening?

We hear sirens,

we hear si—” And you’re

one of the most prominent news

stations in the country.


And no one,

no one understood

what is happening.

And then one of our journalists

is sending us

this image of terrorists

in the Toyota— In the white

pickup truck.

Yeah, white pickup truck

with guns.

And he’s saying

there is an infiltration

in one of the cities

in the south of Israel.

That’s one of the earliest images.

Was this like this pickup truck?

Yeah. Six guys in Sderot. Yeah.

And that seemed like

the craziest thing, that—

It was crazy.

It’s like one of the things

that you say just—how

did they get there?

What? What?

And then you see this image

and you say,

okay, in like, you know,

10 minutes, it’s,

it’s going to happen.

But the army will be there,

the police will be there.

It’s going to be like,

you know,

this—the fucking state of Israel.

And then

more horror

images start to come in,

horror images of

Israeli soldiers being dragged

into—bodies being dragged into

the Gaza Strip, spat on,


be—like people

are attacking the bodies

of these soldiers.

And I was like—I

watched these images

because everything is on

social media.

I remember that

I said to Tsahi, “Oh

my God, his mom is watching.”

That was the first sentence

that came out of my mouth

and I started crying.

“Oh my God,

his mom is watching this.

She doesn’t know

she’s, she’s watching,

watching her child

being murdered

in front of her eyes.”

And as I was saying the sentence

Tsahi got in and when he went out,

he was on his uniform.

And he—as you’re

watching this,

he went to the bedroom,

he put on his uniform,

and he came out. Yeah.

And he’s like standing on, like,

the balcony’s door.

And I told him, “Where

do you think you’re going?”

He told me, “I have to go out.

This is not a drill.”

I’m alone here.

What am I supposed to do?

He told me, “Close the door,

get into the safe room,

and every time

that you will hear a siren,

just do whatever you need to do.

I need to go out.”

What time of day was it

when he put on his uniform

and left?

It was around 8:30, 9.

So really early.

Yeah, it was the first hour.

Had he been called up? No.

So when he said “I need to go,”

what did he even mean?

He’s going to serve his country.

He’s going to save his family,

to save this country,

to save everything

that he believes in.

You know, you—I

don’t really

think that people understand

what happened here on October 7.

I don’t think that

even we as Israelis


what happened here on October 7.

We just started,

I just—I told you at the beginning

you came here at a good time

because the picture starts

being clear

and it’s a horrible picture.


October 7,

we need to say the truth.

We lost.

We lost

for hours and hours.

People were

burned and raped

and murdered in their houses,

in the safe—in

their safest place

in the haven of the Jewish people

in their own country.

And people waited

for somebody

to come and rescue them,

and nobody came.

And they waited

and they sent text messages

and they sent

us—journalists—help us,

direct somebody to us.

We—like, there are terrorists

outside our houses.


I think that

the feeling that we feel in Israel,

especially after October 7, is—a

lot of us feel—is that that day

we were orphans.

You know,

I always say that

my country is like my parents.

I love my country

like I love my parents.

I will do anything for my parents.

I will walk the seven seas.

I will walk fires.

But I don’t

always agree with my parents.

And I say to myself, well,

I will—this

I will deal with a

little bit


than how my parents did with me.

But it doesn’t mean

that I don’t love my parents.

And on October 7,

we felt that we don’t

have a mother, a father,

that will take care of us.

You know the feeling that you

walk in your

apartment and you say to yourself,

if a terrorist

will get into this building,

where do I hide my child?

It was like thinking,

a thought that I never,

ever in my life thought that

I will have.

Do I put him in the washing


Do I put him like,

like, in some kind of a closet?

Who the hell in the world is

thinking that?

Where he should hide his child?

Someone think like—thinks like

that in New York

or Washington

or San Francisco or London.

In those early days,

did you feel like this

could be the end

of the state of Israel? Yeah.

You did?


I’m still afraid.

I’m still afraid

of politicians doing politics


thinking only

about their political

small interests

than the big interests

of the state of Israel.

So when some people are saying

they’re afraid, they’re thinking of

not just the war with Hamas,

but another front

opening in the north.

Of course.

They’re thinking about Iran.

Is that a piece of the picture

for you, too? Of course. Of course.


have—Ehud Barak said

once about Israel that it’s

a villa in the jungle.

I remember that,

and it was enormously controversial

when he said it.

It is.

Whether we like it or not, it is.

Look what is happening

in the Middle East.

Look what is happening.

Like, you know,

I covered the Syrian refugee


I was twice in Greece.

Once I did a documentary

on the Syrian refugee crisis.

And the second time

I went and volunteered for ten days

in a school

that was built by Israelis

for the refugees.

I heard their horrible stories.

I saw the children,

you know, coming.

And I was like cutting an apple

and I—whatever was left from it,

I close it to the gar—I

dropped it into the garbage, and I

saw children coming to the

garbage and taking it from there.

And I remember going back home

and I said to myself,

this can’t happen in 2020.

How come this is

happening in 2018 or 2017?

I don’t understand it.

It’s like

the world is so,

you know—it’s 2017,

in the name of God.

It’s 2018, in the name of God.

It’s—how come people

just—their lives changed like that?

How do you explain—I mean,

right now there’s,

I don’t know if you’d

call it a jihad or what, but a

total decimation of Christians

in Nigeria by Islamists.

If you look at what’s

happening in Syria,

you look all over the world

and it’s people

like the guy that stared at you

from the window

when you were five years old

or the people that carried out

October 7,

terrorizing people,

including Christians, Jews,

other Muslims all over the world.

And there are lots of people

who look at that

and say

what Israel’s

fighting, fundamentally,

is not a war with Hamas,

it is a fundamental war between

Western civilization and Islam.

And what do you say to

that, because you are Muslim?

You know, I see what these

fundamentalists are doing

in the name of Islam.

I see what they’re doing

in the name of religion,

in every religion.

You—I think Christianity or Judaism

or Islam.

If you want to do

something extreme,

you will find

the right excuse for it.

I think that we are giving up

on education.

We gave up on education.

When I see

people in the United States

like this, like

young people, the young generation

going to elite universities

saying, “from the river to the sea,

Palestine will be free.”

They’ve never been to Palestine,

they’ve never been to Israel.

They don’t understand

what a Palestinian is feeling.

By the way, the United Emirates,

you know, Dubai,

all these by

countries, they understood


danger of this fundamental

Islamist movement

and they fight it.

Ask yourself

why Abdel Fattah

el-Sisi doesn’t want

anything to do

with the Palestinian.

He wants to be the, you know,


“I’m willing to have—but

I don’t want this

problem in my country, no, no.”

Why Jordan

has, like,

you know,

a love and hate feeling

with the Palestinians.


They don’t want this problem.

Let’s explain the problem, though.

Because, you know, pre–October 7,

even after the Intifada,

even after all the rockets

on Sderot, even after

after after

all of these things—broadly

on the Israeli left, and certainly

in the United States on the left,

there was a consensus view.

And that consensus view was there’s

two people,

and the conflict is fundamentally

about splitting up the land.

It seems to me

that that is fundamentally shifted,

that idea.

Because what happened on October

7 got nothing to do

with the occupation.

Because when you hear right now

Khaled Meshaal—

Being one of the heads of Hamas.

Hamas. Yes.

One of the heads of Hamas—being

interviewed in a podcast—I’m

going to say it again.

Khaled Meshaal was interviewed

two weeks ago in a podcast.


He was like sitting in one of the,

you know, prestigious hotels

doing a podcast

while his people are starving

or, you know, going through Israeli

attacks in the Gaza Strip.

And he’s

being interviewed for a podcast

and saying in that podcast,


not talking about

two-state solution.

No, no, no.

There’s only one state

from the river to the sea,

which means

we’re eliminating

the state of Israel.”

So when Hamas is asking

to stop the war,

it’s very funny.

You are declaring

deep to a race.

You’re saying that

state of Israel, like you’re

not going to


be okay with the Gaza Strip

or the Palestinian territories.


saying that

you are going to be okay

with all Israel.

So when you’re asking

to stop the war

in the same sentence, it’s

a little bit funny.

And at the same time,

another leader of Hamas

is basically laughing

in the face

of the international community.

They’re looking at these

young people

marching on the streets, shouting

in the name of a terror


and they’re laughing.

So when you teach people,

when you educate people

to speak in a soundbite

and not give—and not read,

you know—I remember the guy

that I fell on his, like,

the day of the terror attack.

There was

a very old man

that I fell next to him.

When I fell on

the ground, my face hit the ground.

There was a guy that sold

a small like—shoes,

and he looked at

everything that happened

and he told them,

“Yeah, well, come on.”

Where will you escape from God?

These are innocent people.

Where will you escape from God?

I think that

these fundamentalists,

these extremists

don’t want us to ask

the right questions,

don’t want us to question

things that are said,

that are done.

It’s easier to have a villain

in—you know, in

religion, everything is very clear.

The—the good guy, the bad guy.

We are the last ones.


You said earlier to me

that on October 7

Israel lost the war,

but of course, the war,

you know, to fight Hamas

hadn’t really begun on October 7.

It would take a few weeks.

And now we’re

almost four months into that war.

Do you think it’s possible

for Israel to—there’s

a paradox, right?

On the one hand,

Israel must win the war

because a democratic country

cannot live

with a terrorist group

at its border

promising to do it again

and again and again.

On the other hand,

other people say

you can’t defeat an idea,

and this is an idea.

So can Israel win the war?

Like you said, Israel has to win.

It doesn’t have another chance.

It doesn’t have any other choice.

And I chose the war: chance

and choice.

We have to win this war.

You know that the

reaction is going to be harsh

and brutal,

and you want the reaction to be

harsh and brutal.


Because they want to


our sense of humanity.

I was angry and frustrated

about this terror organization

because they took from me

the ability


look at the other side

with compassion.

At the beginning

of these days,

they killed compassion.

The sense of compassion in me.

They murdered

the sense of compassion in me,

of humanity,

me not being able to look

at someone else and say,

okay, I need to look at this, too.

I didn’t want to look.

I didn’t want to see.

I’m not interested to see.

And this is

what Hamas wanted to do.

And he was able to do it.

A lot of Israelis,

and you know what?

On a certain level, they are right.

They don’t want to even listen

about the

misery of the

people in the Gaza Strip.

They don’t want to,

to have compassion


the people of the Gaza Strip

because they say to themselves,

“they didn’t have any compassion

when they came and burned us alive.

Why should we have compassion

to them?” And I understand that.

But then I say

to myself,

we lost that day

and they want us to lose

this war.

I’m not willing to give them

this, the benefit

of them looking

and seeing that

we lost our humanity.

We are not Hamas.

Israel is not Hamas.

And this is why

in the last few days,

in the last few weeks,

I started watching

what is happening

in the Gaza Strip.

It’s horrible.

It’s not easy seeing the images

coming out from the Gaza Strip.

And I feel sorry

and painful

for babies, for children,

for men and women

who are being killed in this war.

No one should experience this.

No one in this world

should experience

not what we experienced

and what the Palestinian people

in the Gaza Strip are experiencing.

The next generation of the people

living in the Gaza

Strip in 20 years, if we want them,

if we want to start looking

for forgiveness between

Israelis and Palestinians,

we need

also to be part of the solution.

We cannot

just say it’s not our problem.

These are our neighbors.

We don’t have any other neighbors.

You know,

if somebody is

sitting in Israel

and thinking that one day,

3 million Palestinians from,

you know,

the West

Bank, 1 million in the West

Bank and 2 million

in the Gaza Strip

will just disappear,

you’re living in a

really, really,

really bad conception.

And Israel—I’m

announcing as an Israeli, Muslim,

Arab woman,

is not going to disappear anywhere,

nor the Jewish people.

The Jewish state is here to stay.

Now we need to be part

of a solution.

And to just look

at the geopolitical situation,

we have a great opportunity.

Everybody has political interests.

Everybody has interest

in the Middle East.

You know,

we have peace

agreements with Jordan.

You have peace agreement

with Egypt.

We have the Abraham Accords.

And Saudi

Arabia is winking and telling us.

. . .

So we need to be really,really,

really, you know, blind

not to see the great opportunity

where a lot of political interests

come together

for Israel

and for the Palestinian people.

We just

need to open our eyes.

Before we left

the interview,

we asked Lucy about her parents.

We wanted to know a little bit

more about what

they think of her work, her life,

and what she’s


They’re really proud.

They—they’re amazing, really.

They sound unbelievable.

I cannot be grateful enough

for them, and, you know, them

accepting Tsahi as they are—the day

that Tsahi, on October

7, when my mom knew that he’s

going to the battlefield

and he’s going—she

cried her eyes out.

He’s like her son.


got nothing to do with the fact

that she’s Muslim or he’s Jewish or

we have a child.

His name is Adam.

We have, you know,

I don’t want to put this, like,

burden on him, but he’s the future.

He’s our future.


Adam is Adam.

He’s a, you know,

an empty



He’s a human being.

So nobody’s going to judge him

and nobody’s going—he’s the future.

He’s this and that.

He’s Muslim and he’s Jewish.

And for me, this is my—everything

that I’m doing in my life right now

is for him.

I want him to have a better future.

I want him to be in a country

where he can be proud

to be Jewish and to be Muslim.

And I am not willing


just sit aside

while some people

are trying to push him

and tell him “you’re

not part of this country.”

His father is patriotic.

As a 48-year-old man

that is not supposed to do

reserves is.

And he is—he’s a human being.

And I will fight

for his right to be who he is

without being judged.

This is my fight.

I can’t thank you

enough for giving— Thanks you.

I know how busy you are.

Yes. So grateful.

Now you have to go and vote.

Thank you so much.

Thank you so much.

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