Al Aqsa Flood and its consequences are shaking Israeli society from within. While Netanyahu’s government continues a brutal campaign of collective punishment against Gaza, some Israelis are questioning why their government is more committed to massacring Palestinians than effectively securing the swift release of hostages. As dissent spreads, the government is turning to fascist methods to repress those who speak out, effectively eliminating freedom of speech and arresting those who defy them. Israeli photojournalist Oren Ziv joins The Marc Steiner Show for a special discussion co-hosted with Israeli filmmaker Lia Tarachansky.

Studio: Cameron Granadino
Post-Production: David Hebden


Marc Steiner:  Welcome to The Marc Steiner Show here on The Real News. I’m Marc Steiner and it’s great to have you all with us.

In this conversation, we’re going to continue our talks with people in Israel and Palestine who are involved in the struggle over there at this moment. We’re going to talk today with Israelis in our continuing coverage of this Gaza war. Lia Tarachansky is a name you know from The Real News. She joins us from Toronto and she’s an award-winning filmmaker. Her film, On the Side of the Road, is an in-depth look at the denial in Israel of the Nakba. She runs Winchevsky School in Toronto which is a social justice Hebrew school for children. Lia, good to have you. Welcome back.

Lia Tarachansky:  Thank you for having me.

Marc Steiner:  And Oren Ziv is with us. He’s joining us from Israel. He’s co-founder of Activestills, which is a collaborative project with photographers using their skills to fight for social justice and to end Israel’s apartheid. He’s also a writer whose work appears in many journals, and it has been a long day for him, so Oren, thank you for joining us as well.

Oren Ziv:  Thank you so much for having me.

Marc Steiner:  I know it’s late and you’ve been rolling. Let me start with that. I want to get a little context. Oren, if you would begin, tell us about your day, your last couple of days, the work you’ve been doing, and where you’ve been.

Oren Ziv:  So for the last five weeks, I’ve been covering the events both in the south of Israel but also in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the West Bank. Of course, as for many Israelis and Palestinians, the reality we knew before October 7, completely changed. Personally, I was woken up by sirens on October 7 and I drove immediately to the South. Already on the way south, I understood this was not another round of violence. I don’t like this word, but it’s not another escalation, because unfortunately, we’re used to covering these events. But already on the way we understood it’s a big-scale attack.

While arriving in the South already on that day, the first hours of the Hamas-led attack, we realized this was something different. With the lack of police and army, it was clear the Israelis were not ready for it. The sights, the things we saw in [foreign language] and other cities of bodies lying around, you understood – As somebody who covers Israel and Palestine for almost 20 years – You know that here on the Israeli side, there’s really good first responders and emergency forces. And when you see bodies lying for hours in the street, you understand the situation is not under control.

In the days after we could also gain access to the communities, mostly communities that were attacked by Hamas and we can witness firsthand the systematic killing of civilians. In the following weeks, we continued to follow this. The situation inside Israel with the hostages, with the struggle to bring them back, the huge escalation towards any criticizing voices towards the Israeli government – Especially Palestinians with Israeli citizenship – The very harsh limitation of freedom of speech, mass arrests, police preventing any demonstrations, and even very simple, humanistic things like calling for ceasefire or stop killing children for both sides. So we’ve seen that as well.

As an Israeli journalist, since 2005 we’re not allowed in Gaza. And at this certain point, international journalists are not allowed in Gaza. So we could see some of the things happening in the Northern Gaza Strip from the border. And by talking to people, talking to our colleagues there that are working in unbearable conditions and taking huge risks and barely surviving the daily life, not to say also the commendation.

Marc Steiner:  You were about to say what, Lia?

Lia Tarachansky:  So Oren, before we break all those things down, I really want to focus on the things you were saying. I was hoping we could take a step back. Out here outside of Israel and Palestine, in the last five weeks, there’s been an amplification of a lot of the issues that media is facing today in terms of access to actual facts as opposed to claims, perspective context, but also focus on reliable, on-the-ground reporting. I was hoping that we could take a minute. Before October 7. Could you walk us through what a typical day in your life looked like as a journalist?

Oren Ziv:  So before October 7, I covered political and social issues in Israel and Palestine. In the months before I was intensively covering the protests against Netanyahu and against the legal changes his extreme government was promoting but also the daily reality in the West Bank and East Jerusalem: protests against the occupation, settlements, daily stories, a lot of settler violence, and the displacement of vulnerable Palestinian communities in areas. Things that we see now increasing but trends that we have been seeing and documenting for many years more specifically since the formation of this new extreme government last January.

Lia Tarachansky:  So because I’ve worked as a journalist in Israel, I know a lot of journalists that cover the conflict, but you’re unique in that group in the sense that I’ve never seen anybody that covers as many things as you do. You’re on the ground everywhere all day long every day. And I was wondering if you could walk us through what does that look like? How do you get everywhere? How do you do the extremely high-level journalism that you’re doing? What does a typical day in your life look like?

Oren Ziv:  So a lot of it is research and context because I worked for so many years, so I have contacts in different communities and activists and researchers and other groups. Before a lot of the work was research and being in contact with people; understanding where the stories are, where things are going to happen and many times also arriving there and documenting before it becomes the story for the mainstream media. So a lot will be that: going out and meeting people, even if you don’t take photos or write about it to know people, to know new areas, new stories, new trends, new developments on the ground because things are changing daily.

And then trying to go to as many events as possible. Whether it’s demonstrations, other things, or documentation of daily life. But by going outside in the field and being on the ground you learn a lot of things. Many of the stories that I do and that we do on 972 Magazine are a result of this, of seeing the small or so-called small changes that develop into big political changes.

Marc Steiner:  I’d like to ask you both as well, picking up on some of that… This moment seems different than things in the past. You can dissuade me of that and our listeners, but when you see the destruction in Gaza, what is it now, 10,000 maybe 11,000 people killed, 70% of them being women and children. Who knows who’s under the rubble? The huge death toll of now we’re saying 1,500 plus people in Israel itself, you’ve got this right-wing fundamentalist government sitting in Jerusalem and being attacked by liberation forces, but they happened to be pretty nationalistic and fundamentalists as well from the Islamic side.

Then with the repression that you read about inside of Israel, stopping demonstrations, not letting people oppose the war, all that’s going on as well, and Netanyahu and his government refusing to even think about a ceasefire. So I lay all that out for a second because this feels so different than other wars that I’ve covered, that I’ve been part of when it comes to Israel and Palestine. Do you see that? Something has shifted it feels to me. Do you want to start, Lia?

Lia Tarachansky:  Watching this from the outside, for sure it feels catastrophic and cataclysmic in its scope. The last war covered on the ground was in 2014, and I thought that that was the worst thing that we’ve experienced, Tzuk Eitan, Protective Edge War. But this war right now, feels like 2014 on steroids, both in terms of the level of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Gaza. And also how that intersects with all of the fascistic movements and moves that various bodies inside of Israel, including the government, have been pushing for in terms of repressing protests and certain voices and conglomerating power inside of Israel. So this feels like an escalation on a level that we have never seen before. But that’s, like I said, from the outside. I’d love to hear, Oren, does it feel like that from the inside?

Oren Ziv:  For sure it feels very, very different and much harsher than we’ve ever seen before in different levels. I cannot even imagine what it means to people living in Gaza. I can talk about the Israeli side more to start with. It doesn’t matter what your political views are, most Israelis thought that despite the corrupted government – And we know what they’re focusing on and we know what their plan is – That still the Israeli army will still protect the Israeli citizens if really needed on the basis that this war with Gaza that was billed with billions of dollars would protect them. And this was proven wrong on October 7; All this conception completely collapsed.

Our friends, people we know were in the safe room for hours, more than 12 hours calling for rescue and nobody came. Before all the analysis and the context and what happened before and after on this day but also the week since people feel there’s no state, nobody protected them. Afterward, groups of civil volunteers dealt with housing and food and helped many of the activists from the anti-Netanyahu protest. So it’s a big shock. It’s also maybe the deadliest event since ’48 for Jewish Israelis. It’s a big shock for everyone. Now, from that you can continue to the political changes and things that are happening, but this is an important feeling to understand. And unfortunately based on this true feeling now the cause for revenge and for occupying Gaza, raising Gaza and all the horrible things that we’re hearing, they’re based on this feeling of many Israelis.

As you know, I’ve been talking to many of the families of victims, of survivors, of people, which their family relatives are held in Gaza by Hamas or Islamic Jihad at the moment. And a few of them, or some of them – I cannot say the majority because it’s 240 families that have somebody kidnapped in Gaza and then the victims are around 1,300 – Are saying very clearly, first of all, we don’t want our name to be used for revenge or for killing anyone. And they oppose the mass bombardment of Gaza and the killing of civilians, children, women, and men. That’s the first thing.

Second of all, they say that their message… What their loved ones, their family, and their relatives that were murdered believed, but also their belief is that in the long-term there needs to be some solution that is political, that is diplomatic. They’re using different words but they say that more force and more walls and more of the same won’t bring real security to the area in general, but also for them specifically. So they’re calling to change the narrative, to change the way Israel thinks. Unfortunately, the voices are not heard that much. They’re really big. They are interviewed in the media but this wave of calling for revenge and calling for a second Nakba and other horrible things I don’t even want to repeat, their voices are not being heard enough. 

What they and people like me fear is that Netanyahu, on the very basic level is not taking responsibility for the events, on the catastrophe that happened. And he says that this will happen after the war. And people fear that for that reason and for other reasons, he will continue with this attack on Gaza for months or even more if he can. And people fear that he will continue this to save himself and to keep the current political situation.

Marc Steiner:  So what do you both think about where this could actually go and what could happen? You’re seeing everything –

Lia Tarachansky:  Sorry. Before we go to where it’s going, I want to go back for something that you said. Is that okay?

Marc Steiner:  – Sure.

Lia Tarachansky:  Sorry, I’m not sure how to get your attention, Marc. So since what happened out here in the West, there have been a lot of conspiracy theories that have started to run about what happened on October 7. As you are very familiar with disinformation in Israel of what’s going on in Palestinian territories, it’s normalized to the point of either total blackout or complete fake news. Something similar is happening out West where disinformation about what’s going on in Israel has led to the proliferation of conspiracy theories. One of the prevalent ones is that the majority of the Israeli victims on October 7 were killed by Israeli forces, not by Hamas, or Islamic Jihad. And I was wondering, you were there on the ground the day of. Can you tell us a little bit… What is your response to that conspiracy theory?

Oren Ziv:  Yes. Thank you for the question. It’s very important. I can say and I say it every time, first of all, that for myself, I visited more than five communities that were attacked on October 7, including the music festival party. I talked to dozens of witnesses, I spoke to rescue forces, and I saw some of the documentation, but not all of it. And I can say that first of all, in this attack, civilians were systematically targeted, not by a mistake or something that happened on the side, but as a main goal of this attack. At least this is the result on the ground. I saw personally the bodies of people who were murdered in their houses, in their safe rooms, and in their beds with civilian clothes. And I won’t go into graphic description, but this is a fact I saw. Denying that or denying other things also prevents a real discussion about other things, but this is very important to understand and realize.

There’s a lot of misinformation and fake news. I can say that some amount of the people, the Israelis that were held by Hamas in the villages were probably killed by Israeli fire, but I cannot confirm the amount. I don’t think it’s all the case. I don’t think it’s the majority of the cases. There have been some cases but I’m saying it based on Israeli publication, open information that people said. But definitely, it’s not even close to the majority. It still has to be investigated me and many other journalists are working on these topics and it might take a while for understandable reasons.

I also want to say that of course there are things that may have been exaggerated, but the basic fact is that Hamas fighters – But probably also civilians who entered from Gaza – killed other civilians. Not on a small scale, let’s say, but on a big scale, is something that I can confirm from what I saw but also from all the independent investigations I have done in the recent weeks. I know it might not be easy for people to hear but it’s also my obligation to say it without connection to other analysis or to bring the background of what happened before, what happened after, and why did this catastrophe happen. But I have to be honest and say what I saw.

Marc Steiner:  Given what has actually happened, what you’ve been describing, what you’ve been describing in your articles, these are a lot of civilian deaths. It’s not two armies clashing. You’ve got, as I said, when I looked at the numbers, 72%-73% of the Palestinians who have been killed in Gaza are women and children. There may be 20,000 or more Gazans who are wounded and hurt. They’re down to maybe two or three hospitals, at most, inside of Gaza. 

And then the destruction in Israel itself with all those innocent civilians killed in their homes, in the kibbutzim, at the music festival. And then you’ve got this really authoritarian leaning, right-wing, fascist government – 28,000 injured. Thank you, Leah – And again, I said this is different than anything else I can remember in all my life. I don’t go back to ’48, but I do go back to ’56 and to ’67. This is somehow fundamentally really different. I’m curious what you both think analytically, living through it, what comes out of this? What are the possibilities at the end of this? If there will even be an end? Leah, you want to start? You can.

Lia Tarachansky:  So I want to focus for a second on… The impact on Reza and the West Bank is horrific, but before we get there, I want to focus for a second on Israel. There were a couple of things that Oren said that are incredibly important. One is that the mass movement against Netanyahu in the months leading up to the war has eroded the remaining faith that the society of Israel has in this government or government in general, largely because of the corruption and the way that the governments have been responding. But the government’s response to what happened on October 7 was the nail in the coffin of the Israeli public faith in the government in the way that I understand it.

Now, on the one hand, when you have a really dangerous alt-right government, it’s good that the public is losing faith in it. But in terms of the sustainability of day-to-day life in a country when a mass of the population doesn’t have faith in the government, that’s an incredibly dangerous thing. It opens the door to what we are seeing now, which is the army of civilian Israeli militias supported by Ben-Gvir and other members of the parliament and the training by the Israeli army of various groups of civilian militias. And God knows what they’re going to do in terms of attacking Palestinian citizens of Israel.

I’m also seeing, since Netanyahu took over in 2009, all of his governments have been increasing repression and minimizing freedom of speech, minimizing the right to protest, minimizing freedom of religion for non-Jews, and increasing the fascistic movements in Israel, and implementing fascistic tendencies in the government. What’s going on under the guise of war right now is evidence of all of these years of the move towards those trends. And I was hoping that Oren could speak a little bit to that.

What does that mean in terms of what you’re seeing in the freedom of Palestinian citizens of Israel to speak? Of Israelis who are critical of the government to speak? We are hearing rumors of mass firings of people who are critical, of mass arrests of people who post anything critical of the government on social media, or even critical of war efforts. How do you see the manifestation of these trends in terms of repressive laws and repressive movements and the strengthening of non-governmental fascistic forces like civilian militias?

Oren Ziv:  Yes, thank you for the question. Most of the Israeli public was shocked by that attack and busy grieving and burying people and going through. It seems the extreme settlers in the West Bank, but also the law enforcement services, the police, and the courts were ready for this event following May 2021, in which there was an uprising and protests in East Jerusalem and inside Israel, of Palestinians. So they were ready for this moment on different levels. The settlers, first of all, escalated immediately their attack on Palestinian communities, in Area C, places that were already under pressure. The settlers understood nobody was looking at what was going on in the West Bank nowadays, only the public. Not the police and army that on normal days don’t protect Palestinians, but escort the settlers.

Many of the settlers were recruited to reserve service in the army. So they got uniformed weapons and are serving in their district and that escalated their attacks going into Palestinian communities, threatening people, and giving them deadlines to leave. We’ve seen 13 communities that left entirely and another 5 or 6 that partly left. We’re talking about more than 800 Palestinians in these few weeks. It might seem a small number, but it’s in very strategic and important areas of the West Bank. And it’s the continuing of their policy to separate the West Bank into different sections, and of course to prevent any independent Palestinian state, even theoretically. We’ve seen an increase in the killings by the Army. More than 150 Palestinians have been killed. It’s almost the number we’ve seen during all 2022, which was a year record since 2005.

And we’ve seen a few cases, six of them, if I’m not mistaken, of settlers killing Palestinians. Some of these cases were documented and nobody was held accountable. Meanwhile, inside Israel, the police canceled all the freedom of speech rights people had. Today in Tel Aviv, people were trying to hold a peaceful, quiet vigil to protest political arrest. This morning, the police prevented Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, leaders of the Palestinian community inside Israel, and former parliament members from protesting in Nazareth. They arrested six or seven of them. Following that, there was a vigil in Tel Aviv in which the police arrested 18 activists doing a protest against political arrests. So this was said openly by the chief of police and by the police, and said in court, they don’t allow any demonstrations, even if they’re very simplistic with a very simple message, calling for a ceasefire, calling to end the violence, nothing too radical calling to freedom of speech.

They don’t allow it. And they said it openly. The Supreme Court also approved it, at least for protests in villages in towns in the state of Israel. And the police commander, today, one of the top Tel Aviv commanders said during the demo, this is a war and we won’t let you in sight and order these policemen to arrest random people who were standing on the street without signs or chanting anything. It’s not that before freedom of speech in Israel – For sure, for Palestinians – Was perfect; Far away from it. But we’ve seen a huge escalation that in addition to the arrest on the streets, we’ve seen a mass campaign against any publication in Arabic on social media. So basically anything said in Arabic can be criminalized if it’s regarding the political situation, and for sure if it’s regarding Gaza.

So they opened more than 200 investigations and in at least 54 cases the trial already began. And it’s from people who were showing sympathy or happiness towards the events of October 7, to people who oppose killing children in Gaza or show some solidarity with Gaza. And then other people wrote things in Arabic that were not interpreted well or not translated correctly. But the result on the ground is that we barely see demonstrations. People are afraid to talk. People are being fired. So of course these trials, most of them haven’t been started. But even though the trials started, there’s no conclusion yet in the courts. But already people are suffering from firing, from threats by right-wing and other people, and people are being kicked out of university. This is something we see in every war, that there’s an attack on freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

But this time it’s completely different. People are really afraid to speak. I spoke to an Arab family from the North that lost their child. Their child was a medic. He was killed, murdered at the party in the South of Israel. I went to interview them regarding their story, the story of their son who was a Palestinian citizen of Israel, working there as a medic and saving people there before he was killed by Hamas. And when I asked them about political things, general things, they were afraid to talk. They told me, that even though we lost our son, we could be arrested at any moment. And the fear is everywhere. People are really afraid to go out in the street. We saw it tonight after in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the police arrested people for protesting, calling for a cease-fire to end political arrest. Right-wing settlers had a small protest in the center of Tel Aviv calling to fully occupy Gaza, reestablish the settlements, and transfer all the Palestinians out of Gaza.

This protest was not dispersed, nobody was arrested. Because this is the current, and it’s not surprising in any way, but it escalated very quickly. Right-wing settlers can protest in Tel Aviv, calling for war crimes. They can commit war crimes in the West Bank. They’re not held accountable. And then people who are literally calling for peace and coexistence and to stop violence on both sides – Very, very simple messages, not something too radical or hard to explain – Are being arrested in the street. Things that we’ve seen before, but increased very, very quickly.

My fear is that as we see from the past, rights that are taken in Israel are not brought back when this war or escalation or situation ends. And we’re afraid that this crazy right-wing government with all their allies is not going to change the situation quickly after the war ends, or if the situation is a bit more stable. Even on the Israeli side, the catastrophe in Gaza, it’s not clear when they’re going to end it. Even if they end the war, the situation there is going to be catastrophic for many, many years. But in addition to that, the fear is that they will use this to not allow any criticism against the government.

Marc Steiner:  So before I come back to what I was asking earlier, I was thinking as you were speaking on about your safety and the safety of other people who are covering this, journalists inside of Israel itself. And what you see, what your experience has been, your colleagues’ experiences have been, and how dangerous do you see in terms of your own freedom and freedom of the press and what’s happening in Israel at the moment?

Oren Ziv:  It’s first important to mention that in Gaza, journalists were killed and injured. And I talked to my colleagues and they say there’s nowhere safe anymore. In previous wars, offices of international media outlets were marked by the army, and the army knew not to bomb them. Of course, they did bomb them, like the office of AP in May 2021, but at least there was some feeling, some attempt of the Israelis not to kill journalists. Now this has changed completely and we are hearing horrific stories from the journalists in Gaza, as I said, also working in unbearable conditions. In addition to that, I can say that inside Israel, especially for Palestinian journalists, the situation has been very, very dangerous. Being attacked by right-wing and even mainstream people while broadcasting from the South of Israel, but also from Central Israel. People are actively opening their phones, watching the channels in Arabic, and looking for the presenters to attack them, to disturb them.

This is backed up by the state that is trying to limit the broadcast of Al Jazeera and other channels with different claims. So we are seeing a situation that journalists are afraid to express themselves on social media even doing their basic work. I can say that we try to move together as many journalists as possible, especially when we go to the West Bank or south of Israel. I can say that on the first day on October 7, a few journalists got to a situation where we were shot at by probably Palestinian militants that were in the area. This was before we even understood the full situation, before we understood, there were so many Palestinian militants in the Israeli villages. But as I said later on, the danger is internal, covering demonstrations, the police, and right-wing attacks, and they see also the media as a target. It’s not that they believe in freedom of speech.

Marc Steiner:  Listen to everything you answered, the questions that we asked you, and what you responded about journalism. If you take that situation, look at the absolute devastation of Gaza, people being pushed further and further away from the Israeli border. What’s happening now in the West Bank? Palestinians are being moved out. The next step will probably be the settlers taking over the land where people were pushed out. The repression going on with journalists, the repression going on politically right now that I’ve been reading about inside of Israel, this seems to me, as I said when we started this conversation, a very different moment than I’ve ever experienced before. It seems to me that the future looks really grim. With a right-wing, fascistic, nationalist government in charge, getting stronger. So I’m curious how you see things unfolding and where the opposition comes from. I’d like to hear what both of you think about that. Oren?

Oren Ziv:  Yes, unfortunately, you’re right. I don’t see optimism in the near future. It doesn’t seem that anyone wants to stop or is trying to stop Israel from doing those actions in the West Bank and Gaza and it’s very scary. It’s things we haven’t seen before and things are not under control. Another thing that is scary is even the Israeli government is not really saying what their goals, horrific as they can be, in this war in Gaza is Egypt made it very clear they’re not going to let in any refugees from Gaza, they’re not going to allow a second Nakba to happen through their gates or through their territory. Even mainstream people are starting to say, well, if you go to war, you risk the hostages.

Soldiers are dying every day on the battlefield. And what’s the end game of that? Even the logins of Netanyahu and other ministers. It’s hard to believe they’re realistic. I’m not talking even about the moral issues, but even the practical ones: eliminating Hamas and so on. Let’s say you do it. What do you do the day after with this extreme right-wing government? It’s very clear, and this has been their policy for years, to separate between the West Bank and Gaza. They said on different occasions that Hamas is good for them because it keeps this separation from the Palestinian authority and prevents any diplomatic or political solution in the future.

So when these people are leading this war, it’s really not clear how, if, or when it will end. With time, more and more Israelis, even the ones from the protest movement against Netanyahu – By the way, many of them did go to reserve Army, to reserve service in the military – With the weeks going on, people are starting to realize that also internally in Israel, this is a political war and it’s not clear what the goals are, what the target is, and when and how it’s going to end. So one thing I’m sure will happen is we will see mass demonstrations against Netanyahu with more people joining, people we haven’t seen before protesting. That’s for sure something we’ll see in the very near future, in my opinion.

In addition to that, I can hope – Although I know the chances are not very big – That out of this catastrophe, people will realize that is on October 7 – And this is something that I’m hearing from some of the families – All these military forces, fences, and cybersecurity, at the end of the day it didn’t protect the people who were living near the border. So we can only hope that more people will realize that if we really want to live here one day, not even in some good situation but if you want to live here one day, there has to be another solution. Military solutions and the use of force have been tried for many years and failed. Hopefully, people will understand or start to understand that there has to be something different.

What it is exactly, it’s too early and too hard to say at this moment. Not only for me but for everyone on both sides. I do hope, or at least I want to hope that something is possible. That out of this catastrophe we haven’t seen in decades – And really there are no words to describe it – That something else will grow. I have to say that it’s very upsetting what’s happening inside Israel because you feel that many people, or the majority, chose violence. Maybe that’s an understandable reaction after the catastrophic and horrific attack on October 7 but it seems many people gave up and said we’re going to live in a cycle of violence and horrific crimes and we’ll get used to it or whatever. And this is why we hear about erasing Gaza and a second Nakba and other things.

But even internally in Israel, it seems that the government for sure but some of the public have given up the hostages, Netanyahu, it seems. I didn’t imagine that five weeks after October 7 we wouldn’t see any small deal of prisoner exchange or hostage exchange. The elderly people, the children, the women, and the soldiers that were captured may be a different story. But I didn’t believe an Israeli that we wouldn’t see exchanges. And there’s huge support in the Israeli public. I talk to people who are right-wing and they say, we support releasing all the Palestinian prisoners, all the 5,000 political prisoners that were held in Israel before October 7 in exchange for all the hostages.

This is something you couldn’t imagine before but unfortunately, it seems that even on this front, the government decided to go full-on war that is risking the hostages that are inside Gaza. And it’s not so clear if they will be rescued and how. So this is something that is very upsetting from all sides, that people choose to go on this path of violence and death.

Marc Steiner:  So before we have to close, Lia, did you have a closing thought?

Lia Tarachansky:  Well, the vast majority of the people in Gaza are refugees and the descendants of refugees from 1948. And the level of destruction that the Israeli army, hitting thousands of targets all over the Gaza Strip, the level of destruction has been so total that the only thing that makes sense today, is to take a look at those places where those people were expelled from. The vast majority of the villages and towns, the Palestinians were expelled from in the Nakba are standing empty. There are no towns in those places. And after this war, the only thing that makes sense is to allow a mass return of Palestinian refugees and the imposition of democracy instead of the theocracy and democracy we’re seeing in Israel right now.

In terms of changing, fundamentally changing the political system in Israel and allowing the return of refugees, that’s as far as I can tell, that’s the only way that we can move forward. And that’s the only way to “destabilize” Hamas, which is a goal that the Israeli government has stated over and over again, but is doing nothing to achieve. And it’s the only way to actually end what we’re calling these cycles of violence, is the actual decolonization of the system of power that exists in Israel.

Marc Steiner:  And I’ve tried desperately myself to be optimistic about what could happen next, and it’s really difficult. I heard what you said, Lia, and that is the only way. And when you see that the 10,000 Gazans who were killed, the five Israelis who were killed, the rise of this neofascist government in Israel, and being as authoritarian in some ways inside of Israel proper and as it compares to the killings taking place outside in the Palestinian worlds. It’s a very frightening moment. It truly is.

First of all, I want to thank Lia Tarachansky. I always appreciate having you with me on the air and I doubly appreciate your thoughts and questions and pushing the conversation in directions that had to go I really appreciate you being part of this. And Oren Ziv, your work is phenomenal. We are going to be connecting to both of your works, so people really should check out what they’re both doing. Your articles and your written pieces have moved me and they moved the people I send them to as well. Incredible work. And I appreciate the bravery you showed in standing up and doing the work you’re doing in Israel right now. And I know it’s late in Israel, it’s getting close to midnight, and you probably have a long day tomorrow again.

Oren Ziv:  Thank you so much for having me and of course, I’ll be happy to join again when things unfold and there are more updates.

Marc Steiner:  I look forward, Oren. I’ll be staying in touch. And Lia, again, thank you so much.

Lia Tarachansky:  Thank you so much for having me.

Oren Ziv:  Thank you, Lia. Thank you.

Marc Steiner:  I thank all of you out there listening for joining us today and once again thank Lia and Oren for being part of this. It’s really late in Palestine, Israel, as I said. So thank you all for being part of this and thanks to Cameron Granadino and David Hebden for running the show, editing, and getting it up in the air, the tireless work of Kayla Rivara making it all work behind the scenes, and everyone here at The Real News for making this show possible.

And let me know what you think. Write to me at We’re going to do much more of this in the coming weeks. We’re not letting this go. And if you write me, I’m going to write you right back. And as I said, we’ll continue our coverage of Palestine and Israel. So thank you all for joining us today. It was great to have you all with us.

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Host, The Marc Steiner Show
Marc Steiner is the host of "The Marc Steiner Show" on TRNN. He is a Peabody Award-winning journalist who has spent his life working on social justice issues. He walked his first picket line at age 13, and at age 16 became the youngest person in Maryland arrested at a civil rights protest during the Freedom Rides through Cambridge. As part of the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, Marc helped organize poor white communities with the Young Patriots, the white Appalachian counterpart to the Black Panthers. Early in his career he counseled at-risk youth in therapeutic settings and founded a theater program in the Maryland State prison system. He also taught theater for 10 years at the Baltimore School for the Arts. From 1993-2018 Marc's signature “Marc Steiner Show” aired on Baltimore’s public radio airwaves, both WYPR—which Marc co-founded—and Morgan State University’s WEAA.