Israel and Palestine - personal context

last revised sep 2008

I am an anti-Zionist (non-observant) Jew.

Until about 1981 I was politically ignorant and uninterested, like most young people growing up in England. During this time I visited, and lived in Israel several times. From 1981 to 1982 I did a postdoc at the Weizmann institute, Rehovot, Israel. I spent a lot of time cycling around the country (I was pretty fit then!), including parts of the Occupied Territories (also known as the West Bank). I visited Hebron on my own, which even at that time was a highly contentious place. In Hebron I was shown around the place by young Palestinians, and started to understand what it felt like to grow up at the point of Israeli guns. I remember that the mood got pretty tense when I said I was Jewish, but in the end the Palestinians and I became pretty friendly, and they were quite open with me about their lives and their frustrations, and they seemed astonished to discover that there were Jews in the world who were not intent on humiliating and oppressing them daily.

During my bike rides I also became strongly aware of the large number of ruined Palestinian villages and sites dotting the landscape. These places were never talked about, or only in terms of  "houses which were abandoned by the arabs".

Later on, when I was in Boston, I became part of a human rights campaigning group, proposing talks between Israel and the PLO (this was around 1986-1990, when the PLO were universally portrayed as crazed terrorists in the Western media).

In Southampton, I have helped organize a few events at the University of Southampton which are concerned with the conflict in historic Palestine and which have publicized the One State solution.

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