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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Conflict sours Israeli family life
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By Alan Johnston
BBC correspondent in Jerusalem

In the calm of her Jerusalem flat, 26-year-old Hannah plays her piano.

For Hannah, music is a refuge from some of the tensions of Israeli life - tensions that have worked their way deep into her family.

Hannah's father is a man of the right, who believes that Palestinians cannot be trusted with their own state.

My family's like a microcosm of Israeli society - a complicated picture with many different thoughts and attitudes towards the conflict

Her brother is even further to the right. He chooses to live in a settlement in the West Bank, all of which he believes should be part of Israel proper.

Hannah's brother is a soldier and an ultra-patriot. He serves in an elite regiment and right now he is in the thick of the battle in the city of Jenin.

'I feel torn'

But Hannah's husband is quite a different type of man. He is a peace activist and an organiser of demonstrations against the army's actions in the West Bank.

Unsurprisingly, Hannah finds it difficult to cope with the depth of the differences between these three most important men in her life.

"It's very hard. I feel like I'm torn," she said. "I tend towards my husband but still I have those feelings of my father and brother that concern me all the time.

Israeli peace protest
Hannah's husband organises protests against West Bank incursions
"I want to have more support from my husband to understand my worries these days - these hard days when my brother is fighting in a really dangerous place. And I don't have that support because I only get criticism about the war.

"And on the other side, I want to have more understanding from my father towards my husband's thoughts and feelings, and I don't get that either," she said.

"It bothers me all day - especially this last week - and it causes lots of fights and very unpleasant dinners and meetings.

"These are the most important people in my life, but it has got to a situation where it's almost impossible to sit together around the table - especially when my brother comes to visit my parents and we come too."

'Disaster situation'

Hannah admits she has no answers to the situation.

"If brothers cannot talk to each other about the conflict, it's almost impossible for foreign citizens to talk to each other - and I guess we are getting to a disaster situation."

"We disagree so strongly with each other, and we blame each other and hate each other because we are so divided."

But Hannah says she is far from alone in her situation - in fact she describes her family life as a wider reflection of Israeli society.

"My family's like a microcosm of Israeli society - a complicated picture with many different thoughts and attitudes towards the conflict."

See also:

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Israel's history of bomb blasts
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Israelis back Sharon
26 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israel jails dissenting soldiers
01 Feb 02 | Middle East
Split widens over Israeli reservists
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Q&A: Middle East conflict
20 Feb 02 | Middle East
Dissent in the ranks
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