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CNN Studio Audience Members Give Their Take on Middle East

Aired April 12, 2002 - 15:26   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the crisis in the Middle East. There have been six Palestinian suicide bombing attacks since the Passover suicide bomber struck at the end of last month killing 28 Israelis. That's the blast that set off the current Israeli operation in the West Bank. And since January 29, when there was a bombing at a Jewish shopping center, a relatively new phenomenon has developed. Three of the bombers have been women, including the person responsible for today's attack at a bus stop in central Jerusalem.

I want to bring in our Arthel Neville from our "TALKBACK LIVE" program. She's in Atlanta. She's with our live studio audience, and she's got lots of reaction going on over there -- Arthel.

ARTHEL NEVILLE, HOST, TALKBACK LIVE: Absolutely, Wolf, thank you very much. Shana (ph), I want to begin with you, because you among a lot of people here said that you are not surprised that yet again there was another female suicide bomber. Stand up for me, please.

SHANA: I think America needs to change their conventional thoughts about military and war and man on man combat. It makes sense that the Palestinians would send a woman or even a child, because Americans wouldn't be looking for that. Why not send a decoy? That just makes sense.

NEVILLE: Thank you very much. And we are going to stand by now and listen to -- OK, great. Stand up, Katasha (ph), is it? And your thoughts. You had something to say about the fact that the White House is now referring to them as homicide bombings and what are your thoughts on that?

KATASHA: Not even -- I don't believe in labels and titles, but I believe that if you kill somebody in cold blood, it's a homicide no matter how you look at it. And there were other people there besides the woman who decided to kill herself. Therefore, there's somebody who is missing a family member or somebody who is missing a loved one because you are standing up for your cause. I don't want to be -- I have a whole different cause than yours. So why should I have to die? You see what I'm saying? Why should I have to be a victim because of what you believe?

NEVILLE: Thank you very much. Coming over here now. I know, sir, you wanted to speak out. Go ahead and stand up for me, Andrew. ANDREW: Yes. I just believe like the whole Colin Powell issue of our going over there, you have to realize that all the vital essentials of their country is based on the Koran. No man, no matter how powerful you are, can go over there and try and change a person's beliefs. You know what I'm saying? We have to look at it on that level. You can't really just go over there and try to like talk them out of doing something that is based on their beliefs, something they have been raised with, something that they have been brought up with, something they strongly believe in.

Just like if someone was to come over here and try to get you to go against your beliefs. You're not going to -- I mean, it doesn't seem to me it just doesn't seem logical.

NEVILLE: Thank you very much, Andrew. And I'm going to come over here now. Sir, you had something to say as well. Stand up for me. Go ahead, Mike.

MIKE: One of the keys I think we need to look at, is this a war or is it a holy war? It's a big difference. And these people that are over there, the Palestinians, are fighting what they believe is true. The Israelis are also fighting for what they believe is true. Because if you look at the Bible, depending on which one you look at, they are God's chosen people. They believe this land is theirs. The Palestinians believe they have a right. So they are going to use everything in their power, whether it's women or children, whatever it takes to be able to get the Israelis to get them to understand this is our position and we deserve to be on the West Bank.

NEVILLE: Thank you very much. Stand up, Christy.

CHRISTY: I'm in agreement with what he said. It's a lot deeper than what everyone is seeing on the media. It is a holy war. To them, this is about land and their religion. It's not about -- you know, they're not caring of the fact that it's a woman or it's a man. It's the fact that we believe that we should be here just like you. It's a holy war. And there's nothing that Colin Powell, President Bush or anyone else can do about it, unfortunately.

NEVILLE: So having said that, do you think Secretary Powell should meet with Arafat?

CHRISTY: I believe that Colin Powell should do whatever he deems necessary to do to try to help the situation. But, ultimately, it's not his decision. It's their decision. And it's up to them and the people in that country to come to some type of agreement for peace, period.

NEVILLE: Thank you very much.


Ma'am, stand up for me back here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. As far as Colin Powell actually meeting with Arafat, the only way we can resolve any kind of conflict is to, first of all, address the conflict. So I think he should meet with him.

NEVILLE: And we have a caller now.

Karen from Minnesota, I would like to hear your thoughts. Go ahead, Karen.

OK, we are going to continue now.

Sir, stand up, Cornelius.

CORNELIUS: This is a holy war. This dates back to the Old Testament in the Bible. And, if you look in the Bible, you will see that it is deeper than what everybody really see in the media. And I think it is time. The signs of the times are near.

It's time for everyone here in America, as we see what goes on in the Middle East, to pray up to God, because you have to, because that is the only person that can save you from anything else around you, just like your reporter the Middle East, he had God on his side to help to have him a block and a half away from that. So it's signs of the times. And this is a holy war. And that is the promised land that they are fighting for.

NEVILLE: Absolutely. Thank you very much, sir, for those comments. Appreciate it.

Sir, you stand up for me. I know you had something on your mind.


I think that Arafat -- I think that Colin Powell should meet with Arafat. What is the purpose of him going over there if he's not going to meet with the two principal leaders of that region? Those people who are advising George Bush that he should not meet with Arafat, they need to shut up. That's No. 1.

No. 2, Arafat, whether you like him or not, is the elected leader of that region, just like Sharon is the elected leader of Israel.

NEVILLE: Do you think that Arafat should be viewed as a terrorist?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think both of them should be viewed as a terrorist. Sharon is a terrorist and Arafat is a terrorist. And you got two old men who are very stubborn, don't want to give an inch. And they are involving everybody else in their foolishness.

NEVILLE: Thank you very much.

I want to call up an e-mail right now. We have got a lot of those coming in. Let's pull up one right now and share it with you. OK, it says: "The U.S. must deliver the message that Arafat either condemns the suicide bombers publicly and in Arabic, or we will let the Israelis have him." That's from Scott in Atlanta.

And your thoughts, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not surprised by this terrorist attack by women, because women are goal-oriented, just as men are. So, just by surprised by women, it raises up the eyes of America that, hey, women can do terrorist attacks.

NEVILLE: Thank you, sir.

And I would like to bring in a caller right now.

Bill from California, speak out for us.

CALLER: If Powell does not meet with Arafat, we are letting the extremists set the policy, because that's why they are doing this: to prevent anything that can lead to peace. They want war.

As far as women and children are concerned, check back. The Vietnamese used women and children, OK?

NEVILLE: Thank you, sir.

Audrey, your thoughts are?


In response to the e-mail, the most basic thing that Arafat can do is communicate, as the e-mail said, in Arabic the same things he's communicating in English. As far as Colin Powell meeting with Arafat, there should be some rules established that he communicate the same thing in both languages.

NEVILLE: Thank you very much.

And, Wolf, as you can hear, our audience here has a lot to say about this. And we will continue talking. And we'll be listening to your report. And we'll have a lot to say back in a moment -- thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Arthel. And we'll be back to you later in this hour for more reaction, more questions from our audience, our live TALKBACK LIVE studio audience.

We are going to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll go to Jenin. There's a refugee camp there on the West Bank: Israeli troops accused by Palestinians of engaging in what they call a massacre. We'll get a report from Jenin. We'll also speak with a high-ranking Israeli government official.

Stay with us.





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