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Journalist reflects on the ideological, religious and ethnic conflicts within Israel

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest, Isabel Kershner, covers Israeli and Palestinian politics and society for the New York Times and has been covering the war between Israel and Hamas. She previously was the senior editor at The Jerusalem Report. Her latest book, "The Land Of Hope And Fear: Israel's Battle For Its Inner Soul," is about the generational, ideological, religious and ethnic conflicts within Israel. Kershner is British and has lived in Jerusalem since 2000. She was in Jerusalem when we recorded our interview yesterday.

Isabel Kershner, welcome to FRESH AIR. Do you have friends, relatives, colleagues who were kidnapped or killed in Israel, or friends who have lost loved ones or their homes in Gaza?

ISABEL KERSHNER: Hi Terry, and thank you for having me. I personally directly don't, but my two sons have friends who have been killed, who have been kidnapped to Gaza. I have relatives whose very close friends have been killed. I have extended family, parts of their families have been killed in the October 7 attacks. And on the Gaza side, everybody who's there that I know who I've worked with for many years has been either in extreme danger or their families are. And it's a small, densely packed place. So everybody there has been affected either directly, their own family, or people very close by. So this is really a conflict that is touching almost everyone on both sides of the lines.

GROSS: In your newspaper, The New York Times, the media adviser for Hamas is quoted as saying, "I hope that the state of war with Israel will become permanent on all the borders and that the Arab world will stand with us." Does that surprise you that he'd make a statement like that? I mean, it feels like we're in a turning point of either a really long, permanent war or extreme circumstances like this leading to some kind of peace agreement. And I'm wondering if you feel like this is a dividing line, and the future is going to be really different.

KERSHNER: Yeah. I think you've touched on a really crucial point here. We are at some kind of watershed. What happened on October the 7 has been unparalleled for Israel. It was the deadliest day in its 75-year history, and the brutality of the Hamas attacks and assault of that day and the atrocities that have been coming to light since then means that, you know, there's an Israel before October the 7 and an Israel after October the 7. And similarly, in Gaza, I mean, we now have, according to the health ministry in Gaza, 10,000 plus people who've been killed. And on that side, too, you know, it's an unprecedented situation, a humanitarian crisis unfolding, the likes of which have probably not been seen there since, you know, the refugees all flooded there in 1948. So, yes, I think we're all at a real juncture here. It's extremely difficult at this point in time to predict where it's going to end up, when it's going to end, how it's going to end, what that end looks like.

There's a precarious situation now, as you noted, Hamas has called on Arab countries to join in, and we have seen this constant drumbeat of attacks over the northern border in Israel responding and firing back deeper and deeper into Lebanese territory. The other Arab countries, to be honest, we haven't seen, you know, everybody joining in. I think Hamas, at this point, is disappointed with the Arab response in terms of joining in and creating a whole regional war. We're not seeing that right now. Then the question is, does this kind of simmer on? Does Israel get to a point where it feels like it has achieved its stated goal of dismantling Hamas, taking down Hamas in Gaza, or is it going to be an ongoing conflict with ups and downs or different, you know, tempos, as one official put it today? And having said all that, if and when we do reach some kind of end, what then?

GROSS: I heard you in an interview that you recorded with someone - you were being interviewed, and this was in September, so it was just, like, a few weeks before the start of the war. I'm pretty sure it was recorded in September. And you were saying you thought it was possible that there would be a civil war within Israel because there were so many divisions within Israel. And that's what your book is about, those divisions, and that given the Netanyahu government plan to weaken the judiciary and all the protests in the streets, that there might actually be a civil war. Why did you really think there might be a civil war?

KERSHNER: Well, you know, when I was writing the book, the idea of there actually being a civil war was extremely theoretical, although people were already warning of it. And the book actually ends, more or less, at the point of November the 1, when Israel goes back to the polls a year ago for a fifth election in less than four years, and the result of that election was the most far-right, religiously conservative government that Israel had ever had. And so immediately, you saw all those long-existing divisions and some of the newer ones just exacerbated. You saw the government introducing this judicial overhaul plan that was the most divisive thing that Israelis had confronted in a long time, internally. And you saw these massive protests week after week after week of tens of thousands - hundreds of thousands of people coming out on the streets.

And the country was essentially split in many ways. It was split between liberals who wanted to preserve the liberal democracy of Israel including the independence of the Supreme Court and the judiciary, and you saw the ultra-conservatives who were trying to curb the judiciary, give more power to the elected government, which in a country like Israel, where you have no formal constitution, you have one House of Representatives, you know, you don't have any other real checks and balances on government power. The idea was just to give the government more power. And this was the source of the massive rift we were seeing over the last year.

GROSS: There's a difference between protests and civil war. What was making you think about civil war?

KERSHNER: Well, it's really the zealotry and the feeling that was coming through that one side felt that the other side was taking the country away from them. And on my journey through Israeli society for the book, I was really struck by the entrenched and conflicting worldviews of the different sectors and their sharply diverging visions for the future of the country. And there's nothing new about division in Israel. But now the state's been built, it just feels like these groups lack any common purpose. And twice in antiquity, the united nation of Israel actually held full sovereignty over the land, and both times it ended within 70 or 80 years in a frenzy of infighting. And now modern Israel's in its eighth decade. And the agents of chaos of a few months ago are now in government.

So while Israelis know how to pull together in the face of outside enemies, I really feel I've been watching Israeli society tearing itself apart from within. There was such an underlying tension and potential for violence that, at some point, it was going to start somewhere. And there was real fear of where this could lead. And it wasn't just me by then. It was the president, Isaac Herzog, who warned of the potential for civil war. We have extreme ultranationalists here, many of whom are armed. We have a huge liberal camp here who form the backbone of the kind of middle class who serve in the army, secular Israel, who are extremely well-trained as well. And, you know, there was just a feeling that this was going to combust at some point if the two sides were - you know, they were on a collision course.

GROSS: Has that, for now, changed because of Israeli unity against Hamas?

KERSHNER: So what we've seen is from the moment that the Hamas attack took place, we've seen the country snap together. In the months before October the 7th, you had thousands of Israeli reservists, including the pilots, who are the elite of the elite and who the army very much relies on because the Air Force doesn't have enough pilots to operate without the reservists - you saw thousands of reservists threatening that if this judicial overhaul went ahead, they would no longer volunteer to serve. They said, our covenant, our contract with the state is broken. If this goes ahead, the democracy we signed up to protect will no longer be. And therefore, you know, we are warning that we will not show up next time.

Well, on October the 7th, people were showing up before they were even called up. You know, people were just getting out of bed, grabbing their guns and driving south without anybody even calling them up. Over the next week, the government called up - the military called up 360,000 reservists. Everybody showed up, and the leaders of the reservists' protest movement of the year before, they all showed up. There was no doubt in anybody's mind, on the Israeli side, that this was something different, that this Hamas assault changed everything.

But I would say, Terry, that the old divisions and the new divisions, they haven't gone anywhere. And when this is over, whenever and however that might be, I think we're going to see a massive reckoning. So the liberal camp will be blaming the government for the massive failure that didn't foresee what was going to happen on October the 7th. The government has been absent since. And on the other side, you're going to have the right wing and the pro-government people essentially blaming the reservists who were threatening not to show up for making Israel look weak in the eyes of Israel's enemies.

GROSS: Let me reintroduce you. If you're just joining us, my guest is Isabel Kershner, who covers Israeli and Palestinian politics and society for The New York Times and has been covering the war between Israel and Hamas. Her new book is called "The Land Of Hope And Fear: Israel's Battle For Its Inner Soul." We'll be right back after a short break. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEASTIE BOYS' "TRANSITIONS")

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. Joining us from Jerusalem is Isabel Kershner, who covers Israeli and Palestinian politics and society for The New York Times and has been covering the war between Israel and Hamas. Her recent book is called "The Land Of Hope And Fear: Israel's Battle For Its Inner Soul."

So you've talked about how the ultra-Orthodox are growing in numbers in Israel, and they're growing in power in Israel. And there's also the ultranationalists, and it's the ultranationalists who have populated many of the settlements in the West Bank. So how would you describe the ultranationalists and the divisions that they've created in Israel?

KERSHNER: Well, we're talking really about a separate group here known as Religious Zionists. So whereas the ultra-Orthodox are very ambivalent about Zionism - traditionally, they did not think there should be a sovereign Jewish state before the Messiah comes - the Religious Zionists, who are ultranationalist to a large degree - not everyone, but the - we're talking here about the backbone of the ideological settler movement in the West Bank - they believe that their acts of settling that part of the land, which is, you know, to them, the biblical heartland, the land that was promised by the Bible, they see that as part of the redemption, part of the bringing of the Messiah. Many of the hardcore on that side are messianic. So what we're seeing there is a very concerted effort over recent decades of a group of people who have managed to carry out an agenda that affects the future of the whole country, because obviously, the more settlements you have in the West Bank, the harder it becomes to - for Israel to extricate itself from the West Bank. And without being able to extricate itself from the West Bank, there is not going to be a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Increasingly, you're seeing the ideological, religious settlers going out to the more isolated areas, to areas of where there is a much denser Palestinian population. And you're seeing increasing hostility on the ground, where the young radicals and extremists among that population have kind of taken it upon themselves to carry out revenge attacks whenever there is a deadly terrorist attack that, say, kills a couple of settlers on the road, for example, for Palestinian deadly attacks on settlers or government actions against illegal settlement building. And what we've seen in the last year is an increasing number of settler attacks on Palestinians, settlers rampaging through Huwara or other Palestinian towns, burning property. And, you know, along with the increase in Palestinian attacks on Israelis, we've seen an increase in Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians.

GROSS: So you described the ultranationalists as being in a minority. How well are they represented in government now?

KERSHNER: Well, there you go. This government, they're extremely represented because Prime Minister Netanyahu needed a majority at any cost. His sole goal was to be back in power after four elections with a kind of inconclusive result. And this time around, he managed to scrape together a majority of 64 lawmakers out of the 120-seat Knesset, or Parliament. But that involved him joining up, him and his conservative Likud party, with two very ultranationalist far-right parties, Religious Zionism and Jewish Power - led by Itamar Ben-Gvir, who himself has been convicted in the past for support for incitement and support for a terror group - and another one-man party, a party called Noam, which is ultra-ultraconservative. And so, you know, disproportionate power has been given to these extreme elements of Israeli society.

GROSS: Since the ultranationalists are disproportionately represented, they're a minority that has a lot of power in the Israeli government. So does that mean they will have a disproportionate amount of say in how and when this war ends and what happens after?

KERSHNER: I think when it comes to prosecuting the war, Netanyahu has basically left them out. As soon as October the 7th happened, he formed a very small emergency war cabinet, and the ultranationalists are not in there. So the wider cabinet has to approve decisions made by the war cabinet, but it's the war cabinet that does the thinking. And I think you're right that it comes into play more in terms of what comes after, because if Netanyahu sees that, you know, the only way forward for Gaza is to somehow empower the Palestinian Authority from the West Bank and somehow allow it to replace Hamas in Gaza, you're going to get a lot of pushback from the ultranationalists, who do not see the Palestinian Authority as a partner. And, you know, the question is, what happens? I mean, does Netanyahu survive this war? Do they survive this war? Does this government survive this war? I think at the end of the day, many Israelis believe that this government will not survive this war, and therefore it might be a moot point.

GROSS: Well, let me reintroduce you here. If you're just joining us, my guest is Isabel Kershner. She covers Israeli and Palestinian politics and society for The New York Times and has been covering the war. Her recent book is called "The Land Of Hope And Fear: Israel's Battle For Its Inner Soul." She's speaking to us from Jerusalem. We're going to take a short break, and then we'll be back. I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHICK COREA'S "SONG FOR SALLY")

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Let's get back to the interview I recorded yesterday with Isabel Kershner, who covers Israeli and Palestinian politics and society for The New York Times and has been covering the war between Israel and Hamas. Her new book is called "The Land Of Hope And Fear: Israel's Battle For Its Inner Soul." It's about the ideological, religious, ethnic and generational divisions within Israel. It's also about life for Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank. She's speaking to us from Jerusalem.

Let's talk about some other divisions within Israel. There are ethnic divisions, as well. So what are some of the ethnic divisions within Israel that are causing tensions within the country?

KERSHNER: Well, I'd say there are two main ethnic divisions here. One is between the Jewish majority and the Palestinian Arab minority of citizens who make up about a fifth of the population of Israel proper. There - we've seen a very interesting developments over the years of the Palestinian Arab community inside Israel. Some people call it an Israelization (ph), where, you know, more and more of the Palestinian citizens are buying in to Israeli society, studying at Israeli universities. And on the other hand, we also have a kind of process of Palestinianization (ph) where certainly among the intellectuals and the younger, educated generation, there's increasing identification with the Palestinian national cause. And you have these two contradictory trends going on, sometimes side by side within the same family or the same person, even. One doesn't always negate the other.

And then the other ethnic division I would point to is a very old one here that you would have expected to have died out by now, and that's one between the Ashkenazi Jews who hail from European stock. And, you know, were the founding class of the country and the Mizrahi Jews or the Jews who come from the Middle Eastern or Islamic world, who came a bit later, and Israel was founded in 1948. Most of the Mizrahi Jews came in large waves of immigration in the 1950s. Many of them were sent to remote parts of the country where Israel needed to populate empty land or border areas, and many of them started out in transit camps because Israel was a very small, poor, young country that had just finished fighting its own war of independence at the time, and many were, you know, living in dire conditions in remote parts of the country without easy access to much employment.

And it became a kind of class system, you know, where the Mizrahi Jews were the resentful underdogs of society for a long time and very resentful of the leading elites of the Ashkenazi Jews. And this went on until after the 1973 war when the country was so shaken by that intelligence and security failure and the trauma of that war that it eventually dislodged the socialist, Ashkenazi, left-leaning parties that had dominated the country since its foundation. And in 1977, you had this kind of political revolution where the Menachem Begin and the Likud came to power, riding on a wave of the resentment of the Mizrahi Jews.

Now, you would think that over the generations, that resentment would have kind of faded, and we're now in 2023, but, you know, it has not gone away even though you have a lot of, let's say, mixed marriages between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews in Israel and many, many mixed families. And it's not easy to tell who's a Mizrahi Jew and who's an Ashkenazi Jew nowadays in many, many cases. Despite all of that, the old resentments have not gone away. And in some ways, they've been fired up by the Likud and Netanyahu classes. We've seen a kind of changing of the guard here. We've seen right-wing governments in power for most of the time since that 1977 political revolution. And yet, somehow, these right-wing governments still play this underdog card and fire up this ethnic division.

And we're now seeing among the Mizrachi population, you know, there's historically been large gaps educationally and in terms of wealth because of those early conditions that many Mizrahi families were put into. But, you know, we have seen some closing of those gaps. We've seen the younger generation of Mizrahi Jews becoming increasingly educated and active and activist in terms of trying to look at those old rungs and find ways of trying to right them. So it hasn't gone away. It has been evolving.

GROSS: Is the younger generation as right wing as the older generation?

KERSHNER: It's become more mixed, but, you know, you find that there's almost a kind of tribal loyalty to the Likud among a lot of families. And the Likud base, as they call it, is largely made up of Mizrahim who grew up in these development towns that grew out of the transit camps in the periphery of the country, the margins - either geographically or socioeconomically - of the country. They still make up the most loyal base of the Likud party, and it kind of runs in the blood. You know, you can talk to young Mizrahim who will not consider voting anything but Likud because that's what the family does. But you know what? October the 7 has really changed everything for a lot of people. The government failed. The intelligence failed. The, you know, everything that Israelis thought they could rely on failed. And I think we've seen a shattering of some of those old paradigms now.

It's a little early to say how it will play out. But if you look at the opinion polls being done now, Netanyahu's ratings are rock bottom. People have no trust in this government. The government has been largely absent in terms of managing this crisis as far as people feel on the ground. They feel there's been a lack of empathy from the government. You know, it took Netanyahu a long time to even meet with the families of the hostages in Gaza. And, you know, I'm hearing anecdotally a lot of die-hard Likud voters who are now saying, you know, Netanyahu has to go. Now, if the Likud chooses a new leader, they might well still vote Likud. But Netanyahu himself has been burned with a lot of people.

GROSS: My guest is Isabel Kershner, a New York Times reporter based in Jerusalem who has been covering the war. She's also the author of the book "The Land Of Hope And Fear: Israel's Battle For Its Inner Soul." We'll be right back. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. Let's get back to my interview with Isabel Kershner, who's joining us from Jerusalem. She's a reporter for The New York Times who's been covering the war and for years has covered Israeli and Palestinian politics and society. She's also the author of the recent book "The Land Of Hope And Fear: Israel's Battle For Its Inner Soul."

So you write for a new generation of Palestinians in Israel and in the West Bank, Palestinians who are educated, savvy about social media, that some of the goals and some of the language about the goals have changed. How have they changed?

KERSHNER: Well, Terry, for years, for decades, you know, the basic paradigm for a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the two-state solution, whereby there would be an independent Palestinian state that would come into existence alongside Israel. And on the one hand, nobody has really come up with a very viable alternative for that that is workable and gives both sides the kind of future that they aspire to. On the other hand, it just seems to be increasingly remote a prospect because we have the growth of Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. We have a very weak Palestinian leadership in the West Bank that is highly unpopular with its own people. We have a split between the West Bank and Gaza, which has been under the rule of Hamas, which is the big rival of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. And that split has been just deepening ever since Hamas won legislative elections in 2006 and then seized full control of the Gaza Strip a year after that.

So from both sides, it's just seemed increasingly hopeless that this solution would actually come about. And I think within that hopelessness, you've just seen this younger generation come up with different ideas and views of this. And what you're seeing is a change in the paradigm where - let's not talk about borders. Let's talk about justice. Let's talk about rights and individual rights and collective rights. And, you know, that presents a challenge for both sides, because what does it actually mean, you know? If you're talking about one state in the end who gets to rule in that state if there is, you know, a Palestinian majority, is that the end of the Zionist aspiration of a Jewish state and Jewish self-determination?

In many ways, we're already in a kind of binational reality, quite frankly. And, you know, a lot of the dividing lines and borders and boundaries are kind of technical. But still, you know, what is the end game? And I think that's the problem. Nobody on either side can really see a realistic endgame at this point in time.

GROSS: A lot of people think that we're getting to the point where a two-state solution will be impossible because the West Bank is so divided between Palestinians and Israeli settlements. And even though Israel had said it wouldn't create more settlements, it did. And so the West Bank is becoming more divided and less contiguous because of the Israeli settlements.

KERSHNER: Yeah. I mean, the settlements are certainly not making any future territorial separation any easier. They're complicating any prospect of a contiguous Palestinian independent state in the West Bank. But you also have a very split Palestinian leadership. And, you know, that also has made peacemaking increasingly difficult.

GROSS: There is a big concrete wall and steel fences within the West Bank, and I'm wondering if you could describe those and how it divides the Jewish Israeli settlements from Palestinians in the West Bank.

KERSHNER: So the barrier or the wall or the security fence or however one refers to it, it was actually a result of the suicide bombings of the Intifada, or the second Palestinian uprising. Ariel Sharon, when he was prime minister at the time, he did not want to put down anything that could be seen as a kind of marker of a future border. But there was tremendous pressure in Israel to put up something. And so under this pressure, he did begin this massive project of building this barrier made up, as you say, of high concrete walls, fences and, you know, a whole system around them of barbed wire and patrol roads and sensors and everything that goes along with it.

So you had most of this barrier built inside the territory of the West Bank. And that has separated many Palestinian farmers from their lands. It's created a kind of limbo land called the seam line, where, you know, you're in a kind of limbo between the two sides. And it also has created a very physical separation whereby, you know, only Palestinians with work permits, certainly up to a certain age, can get in and out of Israel and a situation where many Israelis who are not part of the Religious Zionist movement would not necessarily have anything to go to the West Bank for. So the two sides have kind of physically grown apart and - in terms of conscience, as well, and a kind of knowledge of each other. You'll find Palestinians who've never been inside Israel and Israelis who will never go into the West Bank. And you would think, well, maybe that's good. Maybe that's laying the foundation for partition, for a solution, for a territorial resolution along the lines of the two-state solution. But it has not fostered that.

I mean, as we've seen, because of the problems on both sides, whether it's the settlements being built on the other side, the eastern side of the barrier, or whether it's the split Palestinian leadership between the West Bank and Gaza and the weakness of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank. For all these reasons, we have not seen this kind of laying down of a marker bring the sides any closer to peace. We've actually seen them moving further apart.

GROSS: You mentioned that the barriers were built as a result of the Second Intifada. In your book, you describe the Second Intifada as kind of taking place on your doorstep while you were living in Jerusalem, where you are now. You were raising two children in a neighborhood you describe as a genteel neighborhood not far from the center of West Jerusalem. In what sense was the horror almost on your family's doorstep?

KERSHNER: Well, it was in the sense that you would be sitting in your living room one evening and hear a massive boom that you knew was a suicide bomber detonating somewhere within 10 minutes' walk of your house, whether it was on a bus or in a cafe, and then checking where everybody is. Oh, you know, my husband said he was going out for a drink. Where did he go? And, you know, it was an excruciating time. It was a time where people were afraid, not only to get on a bus but to be in your car and stop next to a bus at a red light.

And, you know, it culminated in the massive Israeli operation in the West Bank, which involved re-occupying the Palestinian cities that Israel had left under the Oslo peace process of the 1990s and kind of took both sides back very much in psychological terms and in very real physical terms. And I think if you look at today, you know, we're looking at the Israeli soldiers now fighting in Gaza, and you look at this generation of Palestinians who have kind of lost hope in a political solution. And, you know, many of these people on both sides are kind of the result of a generation who grew up during that time.

GROSS: My guest is Isabel Kershner, who covers Israeli and Palestinian politics and society for The New York Times and has been covering the war between Israel and Hamas. Her latest book is called "The Land Of Hope And Fear: Israel's Battle For Its Inner Soul." We'll be right back after a short break. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF AARON PARKS' "SMALL PLANET")

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. Let's get back to my interview with Isabel Kershner, who's joining us from Jerusalem. She covers Israeli and Palestinian politics and society for The New York Times, and has been covering the war between Israel and Hamas. Her latest book is called "The Land Of Hope And Fear: Israel's Battle For Its Inner Soul."

I keep wondering what happens to the people in Gaza. Seventy percent of Gazans have been displaced by this war, and for a lot of them, there will be no home to return to because no matter how this war ends, their homes will have been destroyed and turned into rubble. And I just keep thinking, like, what happens to them? Where do they go? How is Gaza rebuilt? You know, it's the - part of Gaza is going to be just destroyed.

KERSHNER: This is the tragedy of Gaza. I mean, the images we are seeing is of total destruction. You know, in Northern Gaza, I - parts of Northern Gaza, I don't know if there'll be a building left standing that hasn't been in some way damaged or totally destroyed. It's very hard to imagine how Gaza comes back from this. It's going to require a massive rehabilitation effort. That is not going to happen, as far as Israel is concerned, until Hamas has gone and Hamas is no longer in control there. How that ends, we don't know. So there are so many unknowns here.

And yes, the civilian noncombatants in Gaza are the ones really suffering now. And as you said, many, many have been displaced. The Israeli military has urged them to move from Northern Gaza to the south, where they say there will be a safer zone for them to be in. Not entirely without bombardment, but much safer than the North. And, you know, the question is, when they come back, will they have anywhere to come back to? It's going to require a tremendous effort, internationally. And, you know, it is, at this point, hard to see that happening unless Hamas has, in fact, gone.

GROSS: How is gone defined?

KERSHNER: (Laughter) Yeah. What does that mean? Israel, I think, doesn't have any illusions about being able to disarm every last gunman. I don't know what that means. I don't know if anybody really knows what that means. But there are things like the underground tunnel network that the Hamas military wing uses as one of its main assets in the fighting, and Israel is determined to put that out of action. That's not something that Israel can do from the air. I think the ground invasion that Israel is embroiled in now is about that. You can't bring down a Hamas regime or deal with Hamas' military capabilities purely from the air. But what does that look like, and if one layer of Hamas leadership is indeed eliminated or exiled or - permanently or whatever it is, how do you stop the next generation coming up? So honestly, I don't think anybody really knows at this point what an Israeli victory would look like, how it ends for the people of Gaza and how it ends for Hamas.

GROSS: Well, Isabel, I wish you safety, and...

KERSHNER: Thank you.

GROSS: ...I want to thank you for your reporting and for your book. And thank you for being our guest.

KERSHNER: Thank you.

GROSS: Isabel Kershner is a New York Times reporter who has been covering the war between Israel and Hamas and is the author of the book "The Land Of Hope And Fear: Israel's Battle For Its Inner Soul." She spoke to us from Jerusalem.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOLLAR BRAND & ARCHIE SHEPP'S "FORTUNATO")

GROSS: If you'd like to catch up on FRESH AIR interviews you missed, like this week's interviews with Barbra Streisand, Sofia Coppola and Tariq Trotter, aka Black Thought of the band The Roots, check out our podcast. You'll find lots of FRESH AIR interviews. And just a reminder, you can subscribe to our free, weekly FRESH AIR newsletter at whyy.org/freshair. FRESH AIR's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham. Our interviews and reviews are produced and edited by Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Roberta Shorrock, Ann Marie Baldonado, Sam Briger, Lauren Krenzel, Heidi Saman, Therese Madden, Seth Kelley and Susan Nyakundi. Our digital media producer is Molly Seavy-Nesper. Thea Chaloner directed today's show. Our co-host is Tonya Mosley. I'm Terry Gross.

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